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Colombia’s Attorney-General reaches Ecuador to deliver intel on ELN support for Arauz’s campaign

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL –  According to a message posted on the investigating body’s official Twitter account, Francisco Barbosa arrived after an official request received from the Ecuadorian Prosecutor’s Office, to deliver information found in the files of Andres Felipe Vanegas Londoño, alias ‘Uriel’, third in command of the ELN’s Western War Front (Colombia´s National Liberation Army – ELN).

Andres Arauz. (Photo internet reproduction)
Andres Arauz. (Photo internet reproduction)

According to the authority, the trip is part of bilateral cooperation between the two bodies in a joint effort against criminal organizations that affect both countries. The cooperation is developed based on the compliance with the constitutional obligations of the Prosecutor’s Office as a prosecuting authority.

Barbosa will meet with Prosecutor Salazar to deliver a full report on the findings of the Colombian investigative authority after analyzing the computers seized from the deceased ‘Uriel’. According to reports, important data on the financing of the Ecuadorian presidential elections was discovered in these computers.

Among the data found in Uriel’s computers, one of the elements that drew the attention of the Ecuadorian authorities was that the illegal armed group had made a contribution, as a loan, of US$80,000 to Arauz’s campaign. After reading this information in the Colombian press, the prosecutor sent a letter requesting this information.

“From the Attorney General’s Office of Ecuador we request that there be a voluntary exchange of intelligence within the domain of the nation’s Attorney General’s Office, which you represent,” it urged Barbosa in the letter.

Prosecutor Barbosa was joined in the trip by National Police officials, who would explain the process by which the Colombian authorities gathered the information on ‘Uriel’.

For his part, candidate Arauz described the information as ‘fake news’, while ex-president Rafael Correa expressed his dissatisfaction with the data disclosed by the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office and, furthermore, for the interest of prosecutor Salazar in obtaining such information, which would potentially disqualify his candidate from the presidential race.

“They continue to make fools of themselves and want to jeopardize the second round, they are desperate! said the Ecuadorian politician, who added “and when will the INA Investment account be opened? More than two years have passed since it was denounced. If it belongs to Moreno’s brother, why don’t they open it? Shame on them!”

Colombia's Attorney-General Francisco Barbosa. (Photo internet reproduction)
Colombia’s Attorney-General Francisco Barbosa. (Photo internet reproduction)

ELN strategy in Ecuador

According to audio recordings and documents in the hands of Colombian prosecutors, the ELN is openly supporting presidential candidate Andrés Arauz Galarza, an ally of ex-president Rafael Correa, to return his political movement to power in the country. In the reports, there is evidence of a huge loan that the guerrilla is alleged to have made to at least one campaign.

According to Colombian authorities, in a message found in the guerrilla leader’s computers, Uriel asks two of his contacts in Ecuador about the money that was destined for the “lord of the butterfly of the south MS”, which would be the leader of the UNES (Union for Hope) party, whose symbol is a colorful butterfly and whose candidate is Arauz. “The community members briefed us on a US$80,000 donation made to you in Barbacoas (…) our success depends on supporting hope,” quoted Semana.

In the same conversation, Uriel tells his colleagues that the alliances were strengthened during the ELN’s participation in the 2017 Round Table, where they succeeded in consolidating the desired recognition strategy and they hoped to strengthen with “our friend from the belt.”

According to the Colombian authorities, reference is made to ex-president Rafael Correa and the table is a reference to the dialogue round table over talks held in Quito in search of a peace agreement between these guerrillas and the Colombian government, which was canceled and honored by the ELN following the January 2019 attack on the General Santander Cadet School in Bogotá that killed 22 soldiers.

In a dialogue with Semana, Rafael Correa described all these findings as “hogwash” and argued that they were using the same strategy as when he ran for the Presidency, saying that he had been given money by the FARC.

Colombia´s National Liberation Army –  ELN

The National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) is a revolutionary left-wing armed group involved in the continuing Colombian conflict, which has existed in Colombia since 1964. The ELN advocate a composite communist ideology of Marxism-Leninism and liberation theology.

In 2013, it was estimated that the ELN forces consisted of between 1,380 and 3,000 guerrillas. According to former ELN national directorate member Felipe Torres, one fifth of ELN supporters have taken up arms. The ELN has been classified as a terrorist organization by the governments of Colombia, Peru, United States, Canada, the European Union and Venezuela’s National Assembly. 

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