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Duke Energy shuts 344MW Asheville coal plant in North Carolina

Duke Energy shuts 344MW Asheville coal plant in North Carolina

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Asheville Citizen Times:After 56 years of burning coal at its Lake Julian power plant, Duke Energy has officially shut down the coal operation.“At 4 p.m. on Jan. 29, 2020, Duke Energy achieved a significant milestone and officially shut down the 344-megawatt Asheville coal plant in Arden, North Carolina,” Duke Energy spokeswoman Heather Danenhower said. “The coal plant reliably served customers since 1964. Some demolition work has already started and is expected to be completed in 2023.”The plan to switch over to natural gas has been in the works for years, and Duke completed the 560-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas plant in late 2019. The $893 million natural gas plant was built on Duke’s nearly 700-acre campus near Lake Julian.“Duke Energy customers in both North Carolina and South Carolina are now receiving 460 megawatts of cleaner-burning, highly efficient energy from the new Asheville Combined Cycle Station,” Danenhower said. “We will add 100 more megawatts to the new natural gas power plant — for a total of 560 megawatts — when we bring the remaining steam turbine generator online in the first quarter of 2020.”Julie Mayfield, co-director of the Asheville environmental advocacy nonprofit MountainTrue, said the closure of the coal facility is cause for celebration, but natural gas, while a much cleaner fuel, also comes with some burdens.“The transition to natural gas does not address the larger concern around global carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from fracking, and we recognize those are significant issues that do need to be addressed,” said Mayfield, who also is a member of Asheville City Council and a candidate for the state legislature in the 49th Senate District. “We certainly support the efforts locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[John Boyle]More: Duke Energy officially retires coal units at Lake Julian Duke Energy shuts 344MW Asheville coal plant in North Carolinalast_img read more

Falling LNG prices turning exports into a money-losing enterprise for U.S. companies

Falling LNG prices turning exports into a money-losing enterprise for U.S. companies

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:U.S. liquefied natural gas producers face a wave of order cancellations as global buyers struggle with growing stockpiles of the fuel along with demand weakened by the coronavirus crisis.All U.S. projects could get requests to cancel a total of 35-45 cargoes for July loading, which is higher than the number of shipments scrapped for June, traders surveyed by Bloomberg News estimated. That means more than half of the average monthly shipments from the fastest-growing LNG producing country could be scrapped in July.At least some cargo cancellations would translate into production curbs that could provide some respite from the global glut that has pushed prices to record lows. Shipments from other global suppliers have been robust despite the warm winter and the health crisis eroding demand as new plants keep pushing supply to the market.Economics for sending U.S. LNG to markets in Asia and Europe have rapidly deteriorated. The Henry Hub benchmark in the U.S., the main price link for U.S. LNG, is now above prices in European hubs. While Asian spot prices rebounded from record lows, they still don’t make U.S. exports profitable.Current forward prices indicate that traders will lose more than $0.70 per million British thermal units on LNG export operations from the Gulf Coast to Rotterdam, and more than $0.40 per million Btu for exports to Tokyo in July 2020, Anna Borisova, an analyst at BloombergNEF said in a note.“Negative profit margins for U.S. LNG exports suggest that cancellations may continue until October 2020,” she said. “Even the buyers that consider both liquefaction and LNG tankers as a sunk cost will make losses if they decide to export the commodity.”[Stephen Stapczynski and Anna Shiryaevskaya]More: U.S. LNG cancellations swell with storage space vanishing Falling LNG prices turning exports into a money-losing enterprise for U.S. companieslast_img read more

Investors, activists continue efforts to stop South Korean funding for new Vietnam coal plant

Investors, activists continue efforts to stop South Korean funding for new Vietnam coal plant

first_imgInvestors, activists continue efforts to stop South Korean funding for new Vietnam coal plant FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Straits Times:Pressure is mounting on South Korea to exit a multimillion-dollar coal project in Vietnam, with a consortium of 21 European investors being the latest to raise objections to the country’s decision to invest in coal overseas while pursuing a low-carbon initiative back home.Green activists are already up in arms over what they have called a “hypocritical” move by the state-owned Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) to go ahead with the Vung Ang 2 coal project in Vietnam, weeks after President Moon Jae-in declared a climate crisis and the National Assembly voted in favour of setting a goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.The European consortium, which manages over US$5.5 trillion (S$7.5 trillion) in assets, sent a letter last week to firms involved in the project, including Kepco, Samsung C&T, Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation, the United States’ General Electric and Energy China GPEC.Mr. Eric Pedersen of Nordea Asset Management, the largest asset manager in the Nordics, said it “shares with a fast-growing group of international investors the view that it is not too late to change course”. Nordea manages €235 billion (S$378 billion) in assets and has about €400 million invested in companies involved in the Vietnamese project.South Korea has long been criticised for being one of the world’s largest coal financiers. A report released last week by Greenpeace Seoul Office, Korea Sustainability Investing Forum, and lawmaker Yangyi Wonyoung of the ruling Democratic Party shows that South Korean institutions, both public and private, have financed US$50 billion worth of coal projects in the past 12 years.Ms. Thu Vu, energy finance analyst of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a global think-tank, noted that Vietnamese negotiators are still “carefully reassessing the necessity of the project” in view of factors such as the possibility that the new coal plant may “no longer be cost-competitive” by the time it is completed, say, in five years. South Korean sponsors might not be able to afford the time needed by their Vietnamese state partners, “given the quickly narrowing window for fossil fuel financing and mounting pressure from global investors and green activists”, she added.[Chang May Choon]More: South Korea in hot seat as calls to exit Vietnam coal project growlast_img read more

Video: Riding with the Legend

Video: Riding with the Legend

first_imgRecently, I had the pleasure of riding the Virginia Creeper Trail with Lawrence Dye. Dye is 80 years young and has been riding the Creeper for over 20 years, logging an astounding 165,000 miles. What’s it like to ride with the Legend of the Creeper Trail?Check it out:Legend of the Virginia Creeper from Summit Publishing on Vimeo.The song in the video was written and performed by Wayne Miller, current president of the Virginia Creeper Trail Club.Stay tuned for the full story on Lawrence and his accomplishments in our July issue.last_img read more

How To: Open an Outdoor Retail Store

How To: Open an Outdoor Retail Store

first_imgDear Mountain Mama,When I turned forty, I decided to quit my banking gig and put my MBA to use as an outdoor retailer. My goal is to open an independent outdoor gear and clothing store. How do I get connected with the distributors or sales reps from whom I’ll be buying inventory? Also, I’d like to distribute your magazine.Thanks, Aspiring Outdoor Retailer Dear Aspiring Outdoor Retailer,Congratulations on pursuing your dreams! Your next step is to build relationships with distributors and sales reps. And the place to start is OR, which stands for Outdoor Retailer. It’s a tradeshow venue for outdoor specialty retailers in Salt Lake City, Utah. The summer market is slated for July 31-August 3, 2013. But you’ll want to head out at least a day early for the Open Air Demo, where you’ll get to try out the latest in kayaks, stand up boards, camping gear, GPS systems, and more.OR is where small regional shop owners like yourself get to connect with sellers from all over the world and check out the latest and greatest in outdoor gear. At the show, new accounts are formed and orders are written. The only hitch is that buyer attendance is subject to approval. That means not just anyone can go. Luckily for you, new business owners can send a letter of intent along with their attendance application. The letter needs to be from an attorney or bank on official letterhead stating the type of business you plan on starting. You’ll find more info on their website at http://www.outdoorretailer.com.Also, continue reading BRO for reports of gear made in the Blue Ridge, like the article recently posted here. Contact info is provided in the article for the makers of these fine locally made products. Give them a call, I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear from you.Aspiring, as for distributing copies of BRO in our store, just let us know when you’ve scheduled your opening day!Best of luck,Mountain MamaGot a question for Mountain Mama? Send it herelast_img read more

Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge for Pro Bike Racing (And Plenty of Fun)

Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge for Pro Bike Racing (And Plenty of Fun)

first_imgSaturday 3:30 p.m.: Grab your team and see if you can finish 6 laps the quickest in the Adult Big Wheel Relay Race.Saturday 4:30 p.m.: Lace your shoes and participate in the Roanoke Valley Beer Mile. In addition to a quick run and beer, the top finishers (male and female) earn cash prizes of $500 each!Saturday 5:30 p.m.: Live music kicks off on the Martin’s Outdoor Stage with crowd-pleasing favorites such as Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band and DJ Williams Projekt.Saturday 6 p.m.: The main event gets underway, starting with the master’s race (35+), followed by the women’s and men’ events.Saturday Later Night: Stay downtown for the Night Rider’s Ball that’s part of Bike Month. Admission to the event at Martin’s Downtown is $15. Ride your bike and admission (and valet parking) is free. Anyone who participates in the Clean Commute Challenge in May can also get in free.Virginia’s Blue Ridge Downtown Twilight CriteriumWhen: May 21Where: Downtown RoanokeCost: FreeRelated events (and information): Adult Big Wheel Relay Race, Roanoke Valley Beer Mile, Night Rider’s Ball Make a weekend of it.The Virginia’s Blue Ridge Downtown Twilight Criterium is bringing some of the best professional cyclists around to the heart of Roanoke on May 21.It’ll be a weekend of fast-paced bike action paired with plenty of fun for spectators. You can watch the races, take part in a Beer Mile or Adult Big Wheel Race, and join the after-party for the Night Rider’s Ball at Martin’s Downtown. There will be live music, a bike expo and beer garden as well.If you haven’t been to a criterium, or crit, before, it’s been compared to NASCAR on two wheels. The race is a high-energy cycling event that is designed to provide spectators with one heck of an evening of fun. Professional road cyclists traveling in a tight pack, will race lap after lap through the streets of downtown, each jockeying for the lead. A pack of riders will zoom by your watching point, but don’t blink — they’ll pass by again in about 90 seconds.So why not come to Roanoke for the weekend? (And don’t forget to bring your bike and experience some of the best cycling on the East Coast while you are here.)Here’s an idea of what you can do: http://www.vbrcrit.com/event-schedule/Friday evening: Check in to your hotel and head downtown for a local beer at Soaring Ridge or Big Lick Brewing. Both breweries offer craft beer made on site, have food trucks parked outside and live music.Saturday (or Sunday) morning: Grab your bike or rent one locally at Roanoke Mountain Adventures or UnderDog Bikes and experience firsthand the incredible riding of Virginia’s Blue Ridge.Head to Carvins Cove – 2nd largest municipal park in the U.S. – and ride the 60+ miles of singletrack. Join local IMBA riders for an intermediate ride at Carvins Cove.Take a spin on the Blue Ridge Parkway or the new local L’eroica Ride.If you’re looking for something a little more low key, hop on the Roanoke River Greenway and enjoy the various pit stops you’ll encounter (climbing gym, ice cream, restaurants, shopping, coffee, etc.last_img read more

The Greatest New Bar in Asheville

The Greatest New Bar in Asheville

first_imgHere’s how you get to the greatest new bar in Asheville. Get on your bike and pedal out of downtown on Broadway, heading toward the river. You’re in your big gear because there’s traffic and it’s all a little bit downhill until you start climbing to Richmond Hill, a hundred acres of singletrack that looms over the French Broad. It’s tight and twisty and full of poison ivy this time of year, but two or three laps are mandatory during an in-town ride. Drop off Richmond Hill and head south along the river, stopping for a beer at New Belgium, then hit hobo singletrack that runs between the water and a steep slope of kudzu until you hit the proper greenway. Crank it in the big ring because the greatest new bar in Asheville closes at 8. It’s a 15-minute fast pedal, passing little kids on training wheels and roller skaters and college kids throwing Frisbees in the grass next to the greenway, until finally you’re there, leaning your bike against a bamboo fence post and ordering a beer at the greatest new bar in Asheville. At least, that’s how I got to the bar this week on our regular Whiskey Wednesday group ride. It’s a container bar, dominating a sandy peninsula that sticks out into the French Broad River, surrounded by slow moving water. There are paddleboards and kayaks you can rent, and cornhole and a firepit and a shady nook stacked with hammocks. The beer is cold, the location is perfect, and right now, before the tourists discover it this summer, it’s quiet. Getting home from the greatest new bar in Asheville is just as fun. Get back on your bike and pedal up Hominy Creek until you reach sandy singletrack that follows the stream through high grass before crossing pavement to find a forgotten piece of trail through even taller grass until it gets marshy. Keep pedaling. Along the way you’ll stop for a shot of whiskey. You’ll find yourself in a neighborhood just as it gets dark—climb past the pool until you’re at Upcountry, a brewery in West Asheville where a game of ping pong and a session IPA are mandatory. Pedal Haywood Road through “downtown” West Asheville (there are plenty of bars along the way if you’re thirsty), dropping back down to the river—hunched low and racing now, until you cross the river and start the climb back into downtown. Back to your starting point. There are faster ways to get to the greatest new bar in Asheville. But that’s the route I recommend.last_img read more

Colombia Wants To Contribute Its Antidrug Experience To Afghanistan

Colombia Wants To Contribute Its Antidrug Experience To Afghanistan

first_imgBy Dialogo April 06, 2009 Colombia wants to contribute its anti-narcotics and counter-terrorism expertise to Afghanistan, a country of which Bogotá is supportive because both nations suffer from the effects of drugs and terrorist violence. This was said by Francisco Jose Lloreda, Colombia’s Ambassador to Holland, who participated in the conference on Afghanistan which was held in The Hague, and in which more than 90 countries and institutions renewed commitments to the Asian country. Lloreda told Efe that the contribution of Colombia to Afghanistan’s future “could be in the dismantling of mines, the fight against narcotics, and the support of infrastructure development.” The Colombian ambassador said that Bogotá has maintained “for a year” talks with “various countries” aimed at, among other issues, obtaining sponsorship for specific projects geared toward the future of Afghanistan. As to whether Colombia would provide funding directly to Afghanistan, Lloreda specified that “this decision has not yet been made,” but it has not been ruled out. Lloreda said that the situations in Colombia and Afghanistan “are different” but that both countries share the experience of being “victims of terrorism” and drugs. The diplomat explained that Colombia has accepted the invitation to the conference because “we felt we have something to contribute.” He added that “the future of Afghanistan is not as far as geography shows it, especially in a globalized world where crime has no boundaries.” On the objectives of the conference in The Hague, he said that the challenge is “to move forward on the precision of strategic issues” because the broad participation in the forum “has already confirmed the intention to reaffirm political commitments” to Afghanistan.last_img read more

French Investigators in Charge of Investigating Accident Already at Work in Brazil

French Investigators in Charge of Investigating Accident Already at Work in Brazil

first_imgBy Dialogo June 03, 2009 Río de Janeiro, 03 June (EFE). – Official sources reported today that the two officials from the French Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA) in charge of investigating the accident of the Air France plane that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean with 228 people on board have already started their investigation in Brazil. Today, the Brazilian Air Force clarified that the French BEA assumed the investigation of the accident, which occurred around midnight on Sunday, despite the fact that the plane fell into Brazilian territorial waters, pursuant to stipulations set forth by international agreements. According to the Air Force, the International Civil Aviation Convention (also known as the Chicago Convention) establishes that, in this type of case, the investigation is the responsibility of the country in which the plane is registered. The report issued by the Air Force states that “two investigators from the French Bureau are already in Brazil” and are collaborating with Brazilian authorities. French Investigations will be supported by Brazil’s Center for the Investigation and Prevention of Aeronautic Accidents (CENIPA) and also by regional offices located in Río de Janeiro and Recife from the Regional Service for Investigation and Prevention of Aeronautic Accidents (SERIPA). The Brazilian government, after confirming yesterday that the debris found close to 1,200 kilometers from the coast is from the plane that had disappeared, declared mourning in honor of the victims, among whom there were 59 citizens from that country. The Air France Airbus that would have made flight AF447 between Río de Janeiro and Paris with 228 people aboard of 32 different nationalities disappeared from radar screens after transmitting an automatic message to report a technical failure. On Tuesday, Air Force Planes that participated in the search identified scattered debris from the plane floating in Brazilian waters near the archipelago of Sao Pedro and Sao Pablo, uninhabited rocky formations located some 704 kilometers from the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, the easternmost point of Brazil, and 1,296 kilometers from the city of Recife (Northeast). According to the Brazilian Minister of Defense Nelson Jobim, among other signs, a cluster of aircraft debris was spotted along a strip which extended for five kilometers.last_img read more

Parallels in Narcoterrorism

Parallels in Narcoterrorism

first_imgBy Dialogo January 01, 2010 With the great increases in insecurity in Afghanistan since 2006 and President Barack Obama’s decision to increase U.S. military presence in Afghanistan by 30,000 soldiers, analysts and policymakers are looking for analogies to understand the conflict’s dynamics and speculate on the counterinsurgency effort’s outcome. One of the analogies is the counternarcotics and counterinsurgency campaign in Colombia. There are striking similarities between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and its relationship to the drug economy in Colombia and the Taliban’s relationship to the drug economy in Afghanistan. After all, Colombia has been the world’s largest producer of coca and cocaine for more than 15 years, much like Afghanistan has been for poppy and opium. Those who embrace this analogy argue that the Taliban and the FARC are essentially narcotraffickers with access to vast drug profits — on the order of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars a year — with which they can acquire sophisticated weapons and hire thousands of combatants. IDEOLOGY VERSUS PROFIT AS MOTIVATION Many analyses of the violent conflict in Colombia today describe the persistent violence there as motivated purely by the desire for financial profit. There is no doubt the intensity of ideology in the Colombian conflict has declined substantially over the years. The reasons are several. Unlike in the case of Peru’s Shining Path, for example, the FARC’s socialist ideology was never well-defined to begin with, and the demise of its old leadership and its isolation from the rest of the country only further decimated the group’s intellectual capacity during the past several years. Progressively, the FARC came to first tolerate, then tax, and later even regulate both cultivation and at least some processing. The FARC’s international drug trafficking capabilities have been greatly weakened by the Colombian military’s increased force levels and improvements. It has been selling its coca paste and cocaine mainly to Colombian drug trafficking groups and Mexican drug organizations. The Taliban became aware of the opium economy in Helmand Province in late 1994 and early 1995, and prohibited poppy cultivation as it violates the Quran. However, as this proved politically unsustainable even among its core constituencies in Helmand, by 1996 the Taliban adopted a laissez-faire approach to drug cultivation that progressively evolved into taxing the farmers as well as providing security for and taxing the traffickers. The new edicts the Taliban issued read: “The cultivation of and trading in chers [cannabis, used for hashish] is forbidden absolutely.” The consumption of opiates is forbidden, as is the manufacture of heroin, but the production and trading in opium is not forbidden. In practice, however, heroin labs were not busted and trafficking with heroin was not interdicted. The 10 percent tax on opium, formerly paid to the village mullahs, was now directed to the Taliban’s treasury, earning an estimated $9 million in 1996-97, from the south’s regular output of 1,500 tons of opium. A 10 percent “zakat,” or religious tax, was also levied on the traffickers. As the 1990s progressed, these taxes were increased to 20 percent, generating $45 million to $200 million a year. In 2000, the Taliban surprisingly banned poppy cultivation once again. The absence of viable alternative means of subsistence and income drove the majority of landowners and sharecroppers heavily into debt. While banning opium cultivation, the Taliban did not ban or otherwise attempt to interfere with the sale and trafficking of opium and heroin during that period. In choosing to curb the production, the Taliban was balancing its domestic popular legitimacy with its international legitimacy, which was severely undermined by the regime’s brutality and violations of human rights, treatment of women, sheltering of al-Qaida, and the vast poppy cultivation. The second motivation that likely drove the Taliban’s decision to impose the ban on cultivation was the desire to boost the price of opium and consolidate its control over the heroin trade. THE FARC, THE TALIBAN AND DRUG FINANCING Regarding both groups, their actual levels of profit from the drug trade are highly disputed. In the case of the FARC, drug revenue constitutes about 50 percent of its income. The rest comes from income from other illicit economies, including smuggling gas from Ecuador and Venezuela, siphoning oil from Colombian pipelines and extortion and smuggling rackets for legal goods such as cigarettes. The evidence suggests that eradication efforts reduced the FARC’s profits, but not enough to cripple the insurgency. However, the creation of military zones of encirclement within coca-growing areas, where the FARC has been pinned down by military action, has substantially curtailed its income. A study released by the White House said the FARC’s annual drug profits fell by a third between 2003 and 2005; in 2007 they were estimated at $60 million to $115 million a year, The Washington Post reported. But the guerrillas adapted by switching to other illicit economies, including extortion and kidnapping, and even made some efforts to trade in low-grade uranium. Drug income estimates for the Taliban vary widely, from tens of millions to hundreds of millions a year. Drugs constitute only a portion of the Taliban’s income, somewhere between 20 and 50 percent. This income comes from taxation of poppy fields as payment for their protection and taxation of drug traffickers’ labs and convoys. The Taliban are believed to have access to drug smuggling networks in Pakistan, and Afghan refugees participate in these networks. Other sources of Taliban income include taxation of all economic areas where they have a strong presence, illicit logging, illicit trade in wildlife and donations from Pakistan and the larger Middle East. Efforts to eradicate the poppy crop, undertaken in Afghanistan with varying degrees of intensity between 2003 and 2008, have so far had little effect on Taliban finances. THE FARC, THE TALIBAN AND POLITICAL CAPITAL Both the FARC and the Taliban derive substantial political capital from their sponsorship of the illicit drug economy. By doing so, they protect the population’s basic, reliable, and frequently sole livelihood; and they can mobilize the illicit economy for the provision of various social services underwritten by profits from drugs. Political capital in this context means legitimacy with and support from the population and its willingness to deny intelligence on the group to government forces. An important reason for the decrease of the FARC’s political capital has been its decision to take control over coca paste sales, push out small traffickers and set monopoly prices for coca paste. The FARC did this in order to deprive the paramilitaries of profits from this higher-value phase of the trade. When the FARC eliminated small traffickers from the territories under its control, it not only stopped bargaining on behalf of the coca growers for better prices and working conditions as it used to, but it started abusing them in other ways. For example, the FARC is now setting lower prices for coca paste and is sometimes unable to pay for it. The Taliban, on the other hand, is not facing any decrease in political capital as a result of its “mismanagement” of the illicit economy, because unlike the FARC, it never provided an expanded menu of regulatory and protection functions. COUNTERNARCOTICS AND COUNTERINSURGENCY POLICIES A defining characteristic of the FARC could be its longevity. The drug economy has given the FARC extended life by providing the group not only with vast financial resources but also with steady political capital among the population dependent on the illicit economy. Analysis has shown that the Colombian military has been able to substantially weaken the FARC even though efforts to destroy its income through eradication have not succeeded. Instead, success against the FARC came from the Colombian military’s improved tactics and strategy and from better resourcing its military campaign. Palpable security improvements in Colombia are undeniable: the FARC is no longer stationed on the hills above Bogotá, nor does it have a stranglehold on Colombian cities further away. NATO is struggling to reverse the trends in a similar way in Afghanistan and wrest the momentum away from the Taliban. President Barack Obama’s counternarcotics strategy for Afghanistan, announced in the summer of 2009, promises to mesh well with the counterinsurgency and state-building effort. Opium in Afghanistan The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime found that land used for opium cultivation decreased 22 percent from 2008 to 2009 due to government leadership, an aggressive counternarcotics offensive and the introduction of food zones to promote legal farming. During that time, the opium yield decreased 10 percent, to 6,900 tons, because farmers extracted more opium per bulb. Evolution of the FARC Besides its increasing involvement in narcotrafficking to obtain profits, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is changing the way it conducts warfare. The terrorist group is trying to develop a new generation of urban militants, said Román Ortiz, lead analyst for the security and defense consultancy Triarius Group of Colombia. “[There is an] emphasis on recruitment of university students to become urban operatives to develop urban terrorism operations,” Ortiz said. FARC is also hiring gang members to carry out terrorist attacks. Even though its membership has decreased from an estimated 17,000 guerrillas to about 8,000, this reduction could make the group more cohesive in coordinating terms, he added. In their desperate attempt to obtain followers, the FARC is shifting from Marxism to Bolivarianism. This ideology, which emerged in the 1980s, is similar to socialism but does not forbid private property. “Instead of focusing on a political system of parties, it gives a bigger role to charismatic leaders.” Their international connections are playing a bigger role. “They have developed a global logistic network: They can move narcotics in Mexico or Brazil and at the same time buy weapons in Jordan or China or Eastern Europe,” Ortiz said. Indoctrination has also expanded internationally. The group is training and giving political advice to radical groups across Latin America, following a tactic pioneered by the terrorist group al-Qaida. center_img Vanda Felbab-Brown is the author of Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs and an expert on international security implications of illicit economies and strategies for managing them. Edited from the article “Narco-Belligerents across the Globe: Lessons from Colombia for Afghanistan?” published by Real Instituto Elcano. To see the article in its entirety, go to www.realinstitutoelcano.org. Moreover, the end of the Cold War discredited socialist teachings of violent revolution of the masses and their resonance among Latin America’s citizens. Bolivarianism, a 21st century version of socialist populism, has breathed some life into socialist rhetoric in Latin America, and the FARC has attempted to latch onto and incorporate it into some of its statements. But this does not seem to have improved its mobilization capacity. The various deals to divide up the drug territories as spoils of war between the FARC and its sworn enemies, the rightist paramilitaries, further strengthened the perception that ideology was no longer a part of the conflict. The decision in the mid-1990s of the FARC’s recently deceased leader Manuel Marulanda to institute self-financing for each of FARC’s operational units only raised the importance of the various illicit economies in the belligerents’ overall strategy. Profits are not used mainly for personal enrichment but for the funding of the war machine. This is not to say, however, that drugs are not seen as a crucial means to allow the struggle to be undertaken. Thus, the presence of coca cultivation in a particular locale is frequently a magnet for the FARC and other groups seeking to dominate that territory and control the drug trade in the area. By contrast, the Taliban’s ideology is not only more clearly defined — a mixture of nationalism and religious fundamentalism — but more intensely felt by many of its leaders and even rank-and-file combatants. At the top level, the Taliban’s leadership council, which is known as Quetta Shura and is led by Mullah Omar, is probably most intensely driven by an ideological compulsion based on a fundamentalist vision of Afghanistan. During the past few years, as this core leadership has become more closely aligned with al-Qaida — facilitated by their shared refuge in Pakistan and their shared identification of the enemy as the U.S. and NATO and the NATO-supported Afghan government — Mullah Omar’s embrace of the global Salafism, or Islamic fundamentalism, has also become more prominent. The network led by Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani in eastern Afghanistan is fairly strongly motivated by the extremist cause. Although the members of the network finance their operations by participating in illicit logging and timber smuggling to Pakistan, the financial profits from the illicit economy clearly remain only a means to support their ideological project. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s network also participates in a variety of Afghanistan’s illicit economic sectors. But Hekmatyar is less motivated by an ideology of any sort and more focused on personal power accumulation and profits. THE EVOLUTION OF THE FARC’S AND TALIBAN’S ATTITUDES TOWARD THE DRUG ECONOMY When the FARC first encountered the coca economy in the Caguán region in the late 1970s, it decided to prohibit it on Marxist-Communist grounds as a social vice. Immediately, its policy toward the illicit coca economy generated widespread dislike of the group because part of the population was dependent on it. last_img read more