The U.S. State Department released this week its 2019 Report on Terrorism stating that Colombia’s National Liberation Army guerrilla (ELN) has seen a resurgence in areas of the country after the demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) with the 2016 peace accord.
According to the report, the ELN counts with 3,000 active members, of which almost half are in Venezuela, located in 36 camps. The report also highlights terrorist incidents by the Marxist organization against civilians, military, and police installations.
The State Department also affirms that the Colombia – Venezuela border remains porous given difficult topography, presence of illegal armed groups and drug trafficking. “ELN’s presence has expanded beyond its historic base in the border zone with Colombia. Media report an increasing role for the ELN in regime-subsidized food distribution, contraband (gas, basic goods, meat), extortion, illegal mining, and recruitment propaganda, at times via control of radio stations,” states the report, confirming also that Venezuela’s interim President Juan Guaidó has condemned Maduro’s complicity with ELN and FARC dissidents. “Guaidó warned that Maduro has lost control of Venezuela’s borders and territory, running the risk of turning Venezuela into a “failed state”.”
Signaling the regime of Nicolás Maduro as tolerating the use of the country for terrorist groups, the report states that “much of Venezuela is ungoverned, under-governed, or ill-governed.” Adding that on July 28, “during the closing remarks of the Sao Paolo Forum in Caracas, Maduro stated that Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich (former FARC leaders who were at that time missing and widely presumed to have left the peace process and returned to terrorist activities) were both welcome in Venezuela.”
Both Márquez and Santrich remain fugitives and are believed by authorities to be in Venezuela. The U.S Government recently issued a reward of up to US$10 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Seuxis Hernández-Solarte, “Jesús Santrich,” and Luciano Marín Arango, “Ivan Márquez.” According to the State Department, “both are former senior leaders of the FARC who dropped out of the peace process and have a long history of involvement in drug trafficking activities.”