Colombia’s second largest guerrilla force, the ELN, re-emerged in the headlines again on Wednesday after a period of quiet, demonstrating their continued existence.
Publicity surrounding the National Liberation Army (ELN) arose a new in early October when one of the organizations key leaders, Gustavo Anibal Girlado alias ‘Pablito’, was broken out of jail by an armed rescue operation orchestrated by his guerrilla faction.
The rescue proved that after 45 years in existence and innumberable blows from government authorities, the ELN are still highly active, reported news site Caracol on Wednesday.
Second only to the FARC guerrilla force, the ELN is believed to consist of some 2,500 male and female guerrillas and it maintains a definiate presence in Colombia’s frontier regions with Venezuela and Ecuador as well as various internal areas.
Experts have continuously asserted that the ELN sustain alliances with drug traffickers, which provides financial support.
The organization have come to a crossroads regarding their future, claimed Luis Eduardo Celis, advisor to Nuevo Arco Iris.
“ELN are an armed group who no longer believe in guns but are not ready to abandon their game for nothing,” stated Celis, who knows the guerrillas and maintains that they have been seeking an political exit policy for some time. However, a policy has not been achieved through the government of President Alvaro Uribe.
Thus the group need to devise a way to approach the new governent, to be elected in May, unless the Uribe governent achieves a second re-election.
In the first nine months of 2009, authorities attributed six killings and 12 kidnappings to the ELN. Although these figures are far lower than those attributed to the FARC, authorities warn that the ELN are still present in some eight regions across the country and their military potential cannot be underestimated.
Lastly, with regard to their desire for a political solution, they are allegedly reluctant to exploit themselves and surrender before a government while appreciating at the same time that they cannot demand too much in a resolution exchange.