The war between dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) for territorial control in the Colombian department of Arauca, bordering with Venezuela It has worsened at the beginning of the year with a wave of violence that leaves at least 24 people dead.
According to Juan Carlos Villate, representative of the Tame district, complaints have been received about the disappearance of about 50 people, while more than 3,000 inhabitants of four municipalities are “confined, hidden on their farms, in their homes” because illegal armed groups do not allow them to go to other places in search of protection.
Arauca is an oil and agricultural department where decades ago the Eastern War Front of the ELN, the most powerful of that guerrilla, became strong, a force now challenged by the 10th Front of the dissidents, which occupied spaces left by the former FARC and that finances mainly with extortion, kidnapping and drug trafficking.
“The center of the conflict is the territory, both the FARC and the ELN have been there for a long time. Both have been in that territory for four decades, they know it, and unfortunately the FARC have once again had a dynamic in the territory ”, Luis Eduardo Celis, an analyst on the armed conflict and advisor to the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (Peers), told EFE.
The Colombian government constantly denounces that members of both illegal groups take refuge on the other side of the Arauca River, which marks the border with the Venezuelan state of Apure.
“Arauca is sadly a department in which, because it has a porous border, and on the other side because it allows illegal armed groups to settle, confrontations are being generated. There are clashes between dissidents (from the FARC) and ELN actors, ”said Colombian President Iván Duque. Hours later, he announced the dispatch of Colombian army troops to the area.
The Ombudsman’s Office, which some two years ago warned through its Early Warning System of the risk that “approximately 69,000 people of the civilian population run, of the 174,135 who reside in urban and rural areas of the municipalities of Saravena, Arauquita, Tame and Fortul, ”said their representatives continue to accompany the communities that are victims of this wave of violence.
The Ombudsman, Carlos Camargo Assis, recalled that in the early warning of July 2019, “In addition to homicides, we warn of the risk of threats and illegal detentions, recruitment of children and adolescents and forced displacement” in those four Araucanian municipalities.
International organizations and human rights defenders. H H. have also expressed on social networks their concern about the violence in Arauca a department that never reached peace as a result of the government’s 2016 agreement with the FARC.
The Colombian President, Iván Duque, ordered the dispatch of two army battalions to Arauca: “I have ordered two battalions to be deployed for the task of territorial control in the next 72 hours,” he said.
“These groups (dissidents from the FARC and the ELN) have been operating at ease in Venezuelan territory with the consent and protection of the dictatorial regime,” stressed Duque. He revealed that he will denounce before international bodies “the coexistence and protection that the dictatorial regime of Nicolás Maduro has given to these criminal structures.”