Colombia’s military supporting AGC paramilitaries: ELN

ELN guerrillas (Image credit: YouTube)

Colombia’s last-standing guerrilla group ELN on Monday accused the National Army of actively supporting paramilitary group AGC, a.k.a. “Los Urabeños,” that has been combating the guerrillas in the west of the country.

In an interview with conflict monitoring website Verdad Abierta, one of the ELN’s negotiators in peace talks with the government, Carlos Reyes, said the AGC’s offensive against the guerrillas enjoys the full support of the military.

This paramilitary group receives full support and intelligence and works in coordination with the state military forces that operate in the Choco region. There is no way to explain how they are as free as a bird to move large numbers of forces in this area.

ELN negotiator Carlos Reyes

The AGC is a paramilitary group founded by dissident members of the far-right AUC when that paramilitary group abandoned a demobilization, disarmament and reintegration process with former President Alvaro Uribe.

The AUC’s far-stretching ties to the military, politics and elites became increasingly infamous after their demobilization and mass confessions of ties to legal entities both in the public and private sector.

Several politicians and members of the military have already been arrested for their alleged collaboration with the AGC.

In Choco, the ELN has also been accused of having ties to local politicians, but so far no alleged ties have been proven.

The two rival group have clashed in the south of Choco on numerous occasions in an apparent paramilitary attempt to remove the guerrillas from the Pacific coast.

In Choco there has been confrontation for years with the paramilitary groups and the Colombian army that uses them. They have used them as shock troops against the guerrillas and as a source of terror for the social movement and political tendencies opposed to the regime.

ELN negotiator Carlos Reyes

The AGC, or Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, were formed in the northwest of Colombia a decade ago, but have since made massive territorial expansions without much interference from the military.

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The clashes with the ELN in Choco partly serve political purposes and partly serve criminal interests.

The guerrillas are originally Marxist while the AGC originate from the fiercely anti-communist paramilitary forces that rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s.

Additionally, the ELN’s long-time stronghold in the Choco province is also a major drug corridor to the Pacific and rich in gold, another lucrative source of revenue for both groups.

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“It’s a region rich in all kinds of resources, but as is know, Choco is the poorest region in Colombia [suffering] high levels of corruption, state abandonment, malnutrition and a high level of social contradictions where all kinds of parastatal and illegal forces are active, under the covered by the Colombian Military as happens in many parts of the national territory.

ELN negotiator Carlos Reyes

In spite of the fact the war between the AGC and ELN has already led to several civilian deaths and incidents of mass displacement this year, the military has been shining in absence in the region long abandoned by the state.

Decades of war in the region has already caused the victimization of approximately two thirds of Choco’s inhabitants.

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