Colombia has been immersed in civil war for over five decades, and two main insurgent groups – the FARC and the ELN – are fighting with the Colombian state over large sections of the national territory. The FARC, the country’s largest rebel group, is currently holding peace talks with the Colombian government in Havana, Cuba. That’s put the spotlight on the second-largest guerrilla group, the ELN, or National Liberation Army, which would be the last active rebel group in the event that the Havana talks quiet the guns of the FARC.
Chocó is a coastal province in the Pacific region of Colombia, and a highly active conflict zone. The “Che Guevara Bloc” of the ELN has been fighting there for nearly a decade, and is currently expanding in response to what they call the government’s abandonment of the people and failure to address poverty throughout the region. Those conditions, the ELN says, are helping to fill their ranks.
We embedded with a group of ELN fighters to document their side of the story and learn how they see their country and the war. And we asked them about the prospects for putting down their arms and continuing their struggle through other, legal means.