These Are other Armed Groups in Colombia, Besides the ELN

Despite the fact that negotiations with the ELN are advancing in Colombia, there are still several armed groups that are getting stronger day by day.

ELN members

Photo: The Republic

LatinAmerican Post | July Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: Si el ELN se desmoviliza, ¿qué grupos armados quedan en Colombia?

After three weeks in Caracas, this Monday the first cycle of negotiations between the Colombian government and the ELN armed group ended, which resulted in the announcement of humanitarian actions and the release of hostages. Likewise, a ceasefire was agreed between the army and the armed group in two regions of the country where the situation is worrisome: Bajo Calima, in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca, and in Medio San Juan, in Chocó.

However, the good news was short-lived, because in less than a day, the Clan del Golfo, another armed group in the country that has been at war with the ELN, committed a deadly attack in a municipality in Medio San Juan. Hours later, an ELN front in the area responded by announcing an armed strike. This, of course, cast doubt on the actions taken in Caracas by the negotiating table, and leaves the question of what will happen to the other armed groups in the country that are still committing acts of war.

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The ELN Is Not the Last

Despite the fact that the 2016 Peace Accords between the Government of Santos and the FARC-EP gave good results and promoted these new negotiations, many fronts of this guerrilla relapsed and new macro-criminal organizations were also formed throughout the regions from the country.

At the end of November of this year, Camilo González, president of the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz), warned of the increase and strengthening of these groups between 2021 and 2022. Likewise, González delivered, to the Government of Gustavo Petro, a report that demonstrates this worrying situation. According to the data collected in the Report on the presence of armed groups in Colombia 2021-2022, “narco-paramilitary” groups were present in 332 municipalities in 2021, and this year they are in 345. For their part, the FARC dissidents, which in 2021 had actions in 141 municipalities, increased their actions to 161 this year. For González, the main factors behind this increase would be the expansion of the country's mafias during the pandemic, and also the increase in coca production, which in recent years grew by 15%.

The Clan del Golfo, mentioned above and also known as AGC, would be the armed group that has expanded the most between 2021 and 2022 in the country. EPL-Pelusos, La Oficina, Los Pachencas, Los Puntilleros, Los Rastrojos and Los Caparros, are some of the groups that follow them on the growth list, according to the report.

Willing to Negotiate

Indepaz has also reported that, despite this strengthening, several groups have shown their interest in negotiating with the Government to reach agreements that lead to demobilization and a ceasefire. The AGC, Los Caparros, Los Pachelli, La Oficina, Los Pachencas, Los Costeños, Los Rastrojos Costeños and Los Espartanos would be some narco-paramilitary groups that are willing to start talks. While the FARC dissidences include the 36th Front, the Western Coordinating Command, the 33rd Front Magdalena Medio Bloc, the Southeastern Bloc and the Second Marquetalia.

As is well known, these agreements take time, and in the meantime the protection of those who are victims in the crossfire of these groups must be guaranteed.

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