Colombia’s Minister of Defense said that the country’s two largest guerrilla groups currently have less than 10,000 members combined, local media reported on Thursday.
“It is increasingly demonstrated that the actions of the Armed Forces seriously affect the organizations that insist on attacking the Colombian people…the military fully meets its constitutional commitment to safeguard the rights of all citizens of Colombia,” said Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon.
Local media reported that Pinzon claimed Colombia’s largest left-wing rebel group, FARC, have fewer than 8,000 soldiers, while the second largest guerrilla army, the ELN, have less than 1,500. According to the Minister of Defense, this proves the successes of the Colombian military as FARC “earlier this century neared 20,000” members and the ELN “once numbered 4,000 men.”
According to the Ministry of Defense, these figures suggest that “2012 may be considered the year of [greatest] control of terrorism in recent times.”
FARC and the Colombian government are in the midst of peace talks that aim at ending the almost fifty-year civil war and though the ELN are not participating, they have expressed a desire to negotiate.