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Security & Strategic Review - August 2021

COLOMBIA: New ELN leader will struggle to influence ground forces

Colombia’s Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) guerrilla group announced a change of leadership on 24 June, intensifying scrutiny on a rebel force that is accused of carrying out a number of high-profile attacks in recent weeks. Citing his worsening health as the reason for stepping aside, 71-year-old Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista (‘Gabino’) named Eliécer Erlinto Chamorro (‘Antonio García’) as his replacement. On paper, García’s promotion indicates a policy of continuity; like Gabino, he is one of the ELN’s old guard, widely viewed as an ideological hardliner. Yet, with García believed to be currently stranded in Cuba and separated from the ELN’s ground forces, it is unclear how much authority he will be able to wield over an increasingly disparate rebel army.

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