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Colombian Military Commander Dismisses Rebel Alliance Against Accord With United States

By Dialogo
December 21, 2009

The commander of the Colombian Armed Forces, Gen. Freddy Padilla, dismissed as “propaganda” the announcement of an alliance between the FARC and ELN guerrilla groups in opposition to the agreement that allows the United States to use military bases in the country. “Propaganda, propaganda. Colombians can’t let themselves be deceived or surprised,” the top Colombian military commander said in statements to Caracol radio station. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, a Marxist group) and the National Liberation Army (ELN, Guevarist) issued a statement announcing an alliance in opposition to the military accord between Colombia and the United States. “Comprehension of the exigencies of the moment and our revolutionary condition leads us to order all our units to cease confrontation between the two forces as of the publication of this document,” according to the statement, publicized on Wednesday by the Anncol news agency. For General Padilla, this alliance “is impossible (because) they are in dispute over the control of territory in order to try to profit from drug trafficking.” “They’ve killed one another in some places, like the southern region of (the department of) Bolívar (in the northern part of the country). In (the department of) Arauca (on the border with Venezuela) the ELN looks on the FARC with disdain, and the confrontations between them have been horrible,” he added. “What they are looking for are windows of opportunity, trying to put a good face on their crimes and, of course, deceive the unwary,” he specified. The FARC, with between 7,000 and 11,000 members, is the oldest guerrilla group in the country, with forty-five years of armed struggle, and is the one against which President Álvaro Uribe’s government has directed the greatest military efforts aimed at putting an end to the groups. The ELN is the second most important guerrilla group and is currently estimated to have no more than 3,000 members.