Monday, November 25, 2013

Colombia: Government Forces Kill Ten ELN Rebels in Fortul, in Department of Arauca

According to The Latin American Tribune, government troops killed ten rebels of the National Liberation Army (ELN) early Sunday (November 24) in Fortul, a rural area in the northeastern Colombian border province of Arauca.

Two ELN rebels were captured and taken to San Antonio Hospital in Tame for treatment of their wounds.

The rebels belonged to the “Comrade Castro” unit of the Domingo Lain Front, one of the ELN’s most powerful cells.

The Front has hundreds of fighters in Arauca, the guerrilla group’s main bastion, military spokesmen reported.

COMMENT: The government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the ELN have had contacts in recent weeks to pave the way for a peace process similar to the one that Santos facilitated with the much larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) which have been ongoing in Havana for the last year. 

Unfortunately, though, neither the FARC or the ELN has been agreeable to a formalized "cease fire" in advance of peace talks, which is generally a precursor to negotiated peace talks, which is a bit strange, considering that most insurgencies enter into a "cease fire" as an initial phase of a negotiated peace. 

Admittedly, neither group has been willing thus far to stop injuring and killing each other which is a rudimentary stage of anti-proliferation efforts in the case of all insurgencies. 

The ELN and the FARC, which were both founded in 1964, an off-shoot of Fidel Castro's anti-imperialism, liberation theological philosophies have engaged in combat operations throughout much of Colombia for nearly fifty years.

Yet, today, both groups have seen their combat ranks dwindle to the point that the FARC has seen the number of fighters drop from a high of 18,000 to nearly 9,000 today, while the ELN has seen their numbers drop to anywhere from 1,500-2,000 down from twice that figure years ago.