HomeNewsBriefELN-Urabeños Clashes Leave Thousands Trapped in Bojayá, Colombia
BRIEF

ELN-Urabeños Clashes Leave Thousands Trapped in Bojayá, Colombia

COLOMBIA / 9 MAY 2019 BY JAVIER VILLALBA EN

An escalating conflict between the Urabeños and the ELN has held thousands of people hostage within the town of Bojayá in Colombia's department of Chocó -- a crucial spot along two major drug trafficking routes.

The United Nation's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations (OCHA) has been warning about the confinement of around 2,800 people to the town since February 2019.

 “There is evidence of an increase of confined communities, affecting approximately 2,778 people," an OCHA report stated.  The organization attributed the situation to an "increase in the presence -- as well as armed actions -- of the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN)," among others.

Bojayá connects with Panama's southern border, with the department of Antioquia to the east and towns such as Bahía Solano on the Pacific Ocean to the west.

      SEE ALSO: Pacific Drug Routes From South America More Popular Than Atlantic

This makes Bojayá prime real estate for international drug trafficking, as cocaine is moved through the area and onto Central America. Its worst moment came in 2002 when a massacre there killed as many as 119 people amid fighting between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) and paramilitaries.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the ELN and the Urabeños have fought for control of trafficking routes in Chocó for several years, these clashes have intensified in 2019, threatening entire communities.

Two major drug trafficking routes are at stake: the Bojayá River, connecting Vigía del Fuerte in Antioquia with Bahía Solano, a Pacific port which is a popular cocaine shipment point, and the Atrato River, which is used to move drugs from across Chocó to municipalities such as Río Sucio and Carmen del Darién, from where they can go northward through Panama or straight to the Caribbean Sea.

OCHA specifically identifies as vulnerable communities close to these routes, such as Pogue, on the Bojayá River route and close to Bahía Solano.

SEE ALSO: Urabeños News and Profile

The full extent of this crisis is not yet fully understood. While figures from OCHA and the Colombian government estimate about 3,000 people have been affected by the fighting, indigenous community and religious groups have put the number at over 7,000.

Complaints by the affected communities appear to have fallen on deaf ears in Bogotá. In November 2018, representatives from indigenous communities in Chocó traveled to the capital to demand action from the government of President Iván Duque. But to date, relief has not come, apart from some small-time verification missions.

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

AUC / 8 AUG 2022

Guillermo León Acevedo Giraldo, alias "Memo Fantasma," has been granted his liberty from a maximum-security prison in Bogotá.

BOLIVIA / 29 DEC 2022

The US is losing allies in Latin America just as production of cocaine, fentanyl, and other synthetic drugs is going…

COLOMBIA / 15 JUL 2021

A convicted cocaine trafficker is among the suspects that authorities in Haiti are pursuing in connection to the middle-of-the-night murder…

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…