The United States government is “committed” to “dismantle” Colombia’s remaining significant guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), federal prosecutor Zachary Terwilliger said Aug. 8. The US attorney for the Eastern District of Virgina made the comment after he and six other federal prosecutors met with President Ivan Duque on a visit to Bogotá to discuss cooperation “to fight narco-terrorism,” as Terwilliger put it in a tweet. Terwilliger said the Colombian government “counts on the full support of the United States Department of Justice in the common cause to destabilize, decimate and ultimately dismantle the ELN.” The guerilla group has been active since 1964 and is currently believed to have 4,000 fighters. The ELN was engaged in peace talks with Duque’s predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos, but the talks were suspended by Duque when he took office a year ago.
The ELN is not the only illegal armed group Colombian authorities are fighting with US support, said Duque at the Bogotá press conference. Also named as on a list maintained by the US Justice Department are FARC dissidents who remain in arms despite the 2016 peace deal, the EPL/Pelusos (a one-time leftist guerilla group and right-wing paramilitary now said to be collaborating), the AGC/Gulf Clan, the Puntilleros, the Oficina de Envigado, the Caparrapos, the Pacheli gang and the Pachenca gang. (Colombia Reports, Aug. 9)
The day after Duque and Terwilliger met in Bogotá, the Caño Limón Coveñas oil pipeline was once again ruptured in a bomb blast, contaminating local waters at the vereda (hamlet) of Las Bancas, Arauquita municipality, Arauca department. Although no group took credit for the attack, the pipeline runs through the heart of ELN territory and has been repeatedly blown up by the guerillas. (El Tiempo. Aug. 10)
Photo: Colombia Reports