US Confirms Presence of ELN and FARC Dissidents in Venezuela

US Confirms Presence of ELN and FARC Dissidents in Venezuela

By Voice of America
December 13, 2019

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Lack of border controls and Venezuela’s corruption strengthen the bonds between the National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish), dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish), and the Venezuelan government, the U.S. Department of State said in a report on terrorism published on November 1.

“[Venezuela’s] porous borders offered a permissive environment” for groups that the United States considers “terrorists,” the report said, based on information the U.S. government collected in 2018.

Financial ties between FARC dissidents, the ELN, and other paramilitary groups have “facilitated public corruption and bribery schemes involving Venezuelan government officials and members of the [Venezuelan] Armed Force,” the U.S. Department of State said in its report.

According to the U.S. government, cooperation between FARC dissidents and the ELN has been reported in “roadside checkpoints, delivery of subsidized food, recruitment of indigenous communities,” as well as illegal drug and gold trafficking.

The report also indicates that people linked to guerrillas, such as “supporters” and followers of the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which the United States designated as a terrorist organization, have a presence in Venezuela.

About the latter, the report also said that the group “continued with its long history of operation” in the region, including the use of financial operators working in the area bordering Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.

Regarding Colombia, the report stressed that the country experienced “a modest increase in terrorist activity,” mainly due to security challenges in areas the FARC abandoned as part of the 2016 peace agreement.

According to the report, 1,000 to 1,700 individuals “who never demobilized or who left the peace agreement” continue to perpetrate “criminal activities” or terrorism “especially in border regions and areas previously controlled by the FARC.”