HomeNewsELN and Urabeños War Again in Northern Colombia
NEWS

ELN and Urabeños War Again in Northern Colombia

COLOMBIA / 16 AUG 2022 BY JULIANA MANJARRÉS EN

Armed confrontations between two of Colombia's most prominent criminal groups have broken a three-year period of relative calm in the northern department of Bolívar, despite both groups expressing an openness to possible peace talks with the national government. 

More than 600 families have been forced to flee their homes in Bolívar since the beginning of August, following the outbreak of clashes between the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN) and the Urabeños, also known as the Gulf Clan (Clan del Golfo) and the Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia - AGC), El Tiempo reported.

The two groups are heavily involved in drug trafficking in Colombia and have long vied for control of territory and criminal economy.

Colombia’s Ombudsman’s Office (Defensoría del Pueblo) called on Bolívar’s government to tackle the growing humanitarian situation and warned of the impact on local populations. “The actions of the AGC in the territory have led to confrontations with…the ELN, a situation that has generated panic and anxiety among the civilian population,” it stated in an August 12 announcement

SEE ALSO: Quibdó: The New Epicenter of Violence in Northwestern Colombia

The ELN and the Urabeños previously disputed territory in Bolívar at the end of 2016, following the demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) as part of a nationwide peace process with the government.

In 2019, the ELN and the Urabeños agreed on a non-aggression pact that allowed them both to continue their illicit activities in the south of Bolívar uninterrupted.

Bolívar’s immense mineral wealth, its role as a drug trafficking corridor, and the 2016 FARC demobilization have made it a highly coveted region for criminal groups.

InSight Crime Analysis

The resurgence of fighting between the ELN and the Urabeños suggests the agreement governing the south of Bolívar has broken down.

Though then ELN has historically dominated this area, in 2016 the Urabeños moved into the void left by the FARC following its demobilization, Luis Fernando Trejos, a political analyst from Colombia’s Universidad del Norte, told InSight Crime in March this year.

SEE ALSO: The ELN Gets Richer, Stronger in Southern Bolívar

After three years, the groups ended their fighting with a pax mafiosa. They became allies in the Bolívar department, jointly keeping actors – both illegal and legal – out of the zone.

"The Urabeños and the ELN made a joint effort to drive the army out of southern Bolívar," Trejos said.

The groups are already engaged in hostilities in the departments of Chocó, Norte de Santander, and Antioquia.

Both groups have also signalled a willingness to enter into peace talks with Colombia's new government, led by President Gustavo Petro. But the flare-ups may threaten the viability of such talks.

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

EL KOKI / 19 OCT 2020

The Venezuelan government and security forces have spent the last few months building up a criminal known as Santanita and…

BRAZIL / 20 FEB 2021

Drug traffickers engage in a creative game of hide and seek with coast guards and other security forces that board…

COCA / 12 JUL 2022

The historic publication of the Final Report from Colombia’s Truth Commission has crystallized the core issues that president-elect Gustavo Petro…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…