Small Wars Journal

The ELN as a Colombo-Venezuelan Rebel Army

The ELN as a Colombo-Venezuelan Rebel Army by Jeremy McDermott - InSight Crime

The ELN, Colombia’s last rebel army, has engaged in exponential growth over the last four years, both in Colombia and within Venezuela, and may now be described as a Colombo-Venezuelan force, with enormous implications for both countries.

 

In October 2018, reports reached InSight Crime of a massacre of miners in Bolívar state, along the Venezuelan border with Guyana. It was attributed to the National Liberation Army (ELN). This made no sense, as while the ELN has long had a presence in Venezuela, this was just across the border from Colombia, not on the other side of the country.

 

Requests were sent to all of our correspondents spread across Venezuela to report on any news of ELN presence. The replies surprised us. ELN presence was reported in 12 of Venezuela’s 24 states, with armed and uniformed presence in five of those states.  It was clear to us that the ELN had become a Colombian-Venezuelan group.

 

*This article was originally published by Semana and was reprinted by InSight Crime with permission. See the original in Spanish here.

 

The ELN presence in Venezuela dates back decades. We remember the complaint lodged with the Organization of American States in July 2010, when the government of Álvaro Uribe presented accusations that some 1,500 Colombian rebels were living in Venezuela. In those days the rebel presence was about sanctuary, the ability to live out of reach of the Colombian military, and carry out training, planning and logistics operations without molestation…

Read on.