Years of civil disobedience and unrest characterizes this city. Almost 500 displaced families resulted from armed strikes called by two largest guerilla armies – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).
Residents of Columbia started a period of strikes over what they called a “criminal, unjust, and elitist policy.” Prison and jail systems are ways to serve bad diets lacking in provisions of health care and other amenities. This is just one such instance of turmoil that affected the region.
Here are some incidents that made news: The Colombian army killed ten members of the left wing guerrilla group Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) in a security operation in the north-eastern border department of Arauca. That was many years back.
As per the information, two guerillas were captures alive and that was seen as a big blow to the group in three years. The ELN was not in peace talks with the government, unlike its main left-wing Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc). The then President Juan Manuel Santos lauded the army after the successful strike, but called upon all groups to “accelerate” peace talks in order to save lives.
Stressing upon the necessity of military action, he said strikes would continue until peace was delivered. Meanwhile, as he put it: “we are talking amid the conflict”. The region was embroiled in clashes that highlight the poor security situation in Arauca. This region is considered the home turf of the ELN, a group that comprises of 2,500 fighters and is Colombia’s second largest insurgent group.
The security situation was never good and after the army bombarding a camp belonging to the “Domingo Lain” front which is certainly one of the ELN’s strongest units, some 80 councilors resigned. A victim of the bombarding was a senior leader “El Pony”. A former governor was found guilty of authoring the murder and was sentenced to 28 years in prison. He was also accused of accepting funds from local right-wing paramilitary groups for his campaign in 2004.
Strikes have pretty much been part of life in this city, Columbia. In 2009, a group of FARC guerrillas blocked the roads in the eastern department of Arauca, distributing pamphlets that declared an armed strike against drivers.
They threatened truck drivers with burning their vehicles if they appeared on the road. The strike resulted in a loss of 1.5 billion pesos in the transport sector. Continued military action by its armed forces and the attacks by guerilla forces left the oil-rich Arauca a dejected, battered, bruised and lost region.
Such stories of loss dot the history of the region. Peace talks were initiated with the help of social organizations, and the society was offered international help. The process was slow to take off and was initiated amid the continued demonstration due to the relentless efforts of the groups involved. Life has to go on. So it is with the people living over there. In spite of all that they have lost, they picked up the threads and saw light again.