Colombia’s foreign minister claims that the government of Maduro in Venezuela is actively supporting the ELN, Colombia’s 2000 strong rebel group – in what is now a 50 year conflict.
The minister’s claim is based on allegedly classified Venezuelan military documents obtained by Colombian intelligence agencies.
On Friday, President Ivan Duque said Friday that he “will not allow the border to become a sanctuary for the ELN” and called on the UN and other international bodies to acknowledge Venezuela is violating international law.
Duque claims that under Maduro, the ELN’s tactic of recruiting child soldiers has increased.
The commander of Colombia’s military forces, General Luis Fernando Navarro, claimed on Thursday that almost half of the guerrilla group’s forces are currently in Venezuelan territory.
This was confirmed by the Venezuelan opposition leader Guidao, who claimed to also have been briefed on the alleged intelligence reports.
The ELN has been active in Venezuela since the 1990s. After Hugo Chavez took power in 1999, things only got worse as the self-described Socialist leader abetted rebels.
Duque broke off peace talks with the group after a terrorist attack killed 22 and injured more than 60 people in Bogota in January, but has had major trouble maintaining law and order in the country in regions where the ELN is known to be active.
ELN has a considerably powerful and well-armed militia.
The porous 1000 mile border is a hub for smuggling and acts as a transit of Venezuelan migrants fleeing hyperinflation and their country’s political crisis. It has also proved to be a haven for guerrillas to train and operate.