Colombia’s two largest rebel groups Sunday announced closer collaboration in northeastern Colombia to “confront the big oligopolies, transnational capital and imperialism.”
“The political moment which the [northeastern] department of Arauca and Colombia’s east is living through, merits all to reflect on the economic and social situation generated by the presence of the multinational companies and the disproportionate ambitions and the voracious appetite of the mining sector, which resulted in the region’s militarization from which we suffer, breaking the environmental balance and tranquility of the entire society,” said a joint FARC-ELN statement signed by the leadership of the two organizations in the region.
Camilo Gonzalez Posso, president of the conflict-monitoring NGO, INDEPAZ, told Colombia Reports the ELN-FARC alliances were a part of a regional strategy by the two rebel groups to strike against the economically vital oil sector.
“Especially in Arauca there have been joint actions of the FARC and ELN against oil companies, the statistic registers indicate that sabotages against oil pipelines and infrastructure have increased, there are also antecedents…of armed strikes, these have implications, impacts and motives of alert not only in Arauca, which has been a traditional region of alliance between these organizations,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez also said collaboration between the two groups could have to do with the ELN’s absence at the ongoing FARC-government peace talks in Havana, Cuba.
“I think there has been a process of convergence, above all in the zones where the ELN has a presence, like Arauca, Antioquia, Casanare and the Pacific coast of Nariño, where they have twice the influence. On the one hand they are military alliances, but on the other hand it is an approach that could mean something in the context of the Havana accords or parallel negotations with the ELN,” said Gonzalez.
This is not the first time that rebels from Colombia’s largest rebel groups have announced regional alliances. In February, an ELN communique said the two rebel groups would fight together against the large-scale mining sector in the northwestern Antioquia department.
FARC and ELN were for many years engaged in bloody turf wars against each other until the leadership of both groups announced the intent to construct a nationwide alliance in 2009.
In the communique on Sunday, the rebels spoke about creating a “Popular Revolutionary Bloc” to confront the big, transnational companies active in the region.
“We call on the fighters, militants, all the revolutionaries of both forces, to assume with loyalty and dedication the unified Bolivarian spirit of our commanders Manuel Marulanda Velez [founder of the FARC] and Manuel Perez Martinez [founder of the ELN], turning the pain into force; the challenge of today is to strengthen the Popular Revolutionary Bloc [to] confront the big oligopolies, transnational capital and imperialism,” the statement concluded.