HomeNewsBriefColombia Army Says Powerful ELN Bloc Opposed to Peace
BRIEF

Colombia Army Says Powerful ELN Bloc Opposed to Peace

COLOMBIA / 28 APR 2017 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

Colombia's government has admitted that a key ELN faction is opposed to the peace process. But while this singles out the most overtly rebellious front, there are many other red flags that may put the insurgency's new peace talks in jeopardy.

Colombia's armed forces have recognized that the Western War Front of the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN) is essentially opposed to the peace negotiations currently taking place between the Colombian government and the guerrilla group.

General Mauricio Moreno, head of the task force fighting the bloc, described it as "completely detached from the [peace] negotiations … because they're narcoterrorists, who assassinate and kidnap under the orders" of leader who uses the alias "Fabián," El Colombiano reported.

The Western War Front is based in Chocó, an embattled Pacific department where the ELN continue to be responsible for displacement, extortion and other illicit activities.

Perhaps the most widely publicized have been the front's ongoing kidnaps. The refusal of the ELN in Chocó to free former congressman Odín Sánchez long delayed the formal start of the peace talks. More recently, the front released a soldier and his partner who had been held captive for over a month.

Moreover, the guerrillas are currently battling Colombia's most powerful crime group, the Urabeños, over the region's lucrative criminal real estate, incentivized by the ongoing demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) present in Chocó.

InSight Crime Analysis

The unruliness of the ELN's Chocó faction over these few months of formal dialogues has been clear. The faction has not only continued to kidnap, despite the risk of jeopardizing the ongoing peace talks, but they also continue to traffic large amounts of cocaine through this strategic department.

However, the ELN to the west are not the only bloc showing clear signs of defiance. As InSight Crime has noted in the past, powerful Eastern War Front Commander Gustavo Aníbal Giraldo, alias "Pablito," is something of a loose cannon within the insurgency. Although he was recently brought into the ELN's Central Command (Comando Central - COCE) to strengthen internal cohesion for the peace process, there are persistent rumors that he is opposed to the talks.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of ELN Peace

During a recent field trip to Nariño, InSight Crime was told that the local ELN faction, belonging to the Southwestern War Front, is also resistant to the national leadership's intentions to talk peace.

Furthermore, continual ELN attacks can be interpreted as a form of putting pressure on the peace talks to advance, though in reality they may achieve the opposite. Only yesterday, the ELN blew up a key oil pipeline, leaving hundreds without clean water.

Government peace negotiators reacted with disbelief. "These kinds of terrorist actions -- which affect civilians, not ELN combatants -- make negotiations in Quito more difficult," chief negotiator Juan Camilo Restrepo tweeted.

While the ELN's actions erode the peace talks, its own members are also becoming increasingly disenfranchised. Many have been demobilizing independently from the rebel army, likely weary of offensives from both the security forces and other criminal actors. Indeed, the group's lack of unity and centralized leadership may be the biggest factors inhibiting the success of this latest peace effort.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 6 JUL 2022

Tusi, a pink synthetic drug powder, is increasing its share of Latin America's drug markets.

COCAINE / 28 APR 2022

The rapid expansion of FARC dissident groups has brought an end to a fleeting period of tranquility in Putumayo. Now,…

ARGENTINA / 7 MAY 2021

The cat-and-mouse game of evading law enforcement was taken literally by drug smugglers recently in Panama, who hid cocaine on…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…