The guerrilla Andrés Vanegas Londoño, alias “Uriel”, head of a front of the National Liberation Army (ELN) that operates in the department of Chocó (west), was killed in a military operation, Colombian President Iván Duque reported this Sunday.
“I want to inform the country that today the Odín operation was carried out in which the terrorist Andrés Felipe Vanegas Londoño was killed, who used the alias of ‘Uriel’,” Duque said in a statement in Quibdó, the capital of Chocó.
Alias ”Uriel” was the visible head of the ELN’s Western War Front that operates in the west of the country and was killed in a military operation in the Chocoano municipality of Nóvita.
The head of state reported that the guerrilla was killed in a “meticulous” operation by the Army, the Police and the National Navy, which had the support of the Air Force and the Attorney General’s Office.
“In this operation a dangerous criminal fell, who was responsible for crimes such as kidnapping, murder of social leaders, persecution and harassment of populations, murder of soldiers and police, and also for shaping and encouraging the recruitment of minors,” said Duque.
The president stressed that “This is a very important coup because one of the most visible figures of that terrorist organization has fallen” and described “Uriel” as a “criminal who used social networks to apologize for crime.”
“Uriel”, who had been in the ELN for more than 25 years, acknowledged a month ago that that guerrilla participated in the violent demonstrations in Bogotá against police brutality in which at least 13 people died on September 9 and 10, days in which at least 75 Immediate Attention Centers (CAI) were set on fire from the police.
Alias ”Uriel” had achieved notoriety in the country for his constant appearances on social networks in which he called himself the “editorial voice” of the Western War Front, and he used to constantly comment on political issues and peace negotiations.
President Duque recalled that the guerrilla was one of the ELN commanders that the terrorist attack against the School of Police Cadets in Bogotá was attributed, which in January of last year left 22 dead and 66 injured.
After this attack, the ELN’s Twitter accounts and its website were suspended, as well as the profile of “Uriel” on that social network, a platform where he used to publish information about criminal actions and propaganda of the organization, was blocked.
“This bandit, this criminal felt untouchable but we reached his den,” Duque said about “Uriel,” who had a direct line with Pablo Beltrán, a member of the ELN’s Central Command (COCE).
Stone in the shoe in peace negotiations
After the attack on the Santander General School, “Uriel” stated that the guerrillas would continue with “this type of terrorist attacks against other military or police installations in the country,” as the Ministry of Defense reported this Sunday.
That attack was the breaking point of the incipient peace process between the Government and the ELN, whose negotiations, which began in 2017, were suspended by President Duque, who initially conditioned the resumption of the dialogues if that guerrilla gave up the kidnapping and others. criminal activities.
In response to this condition, “Uriel” warned that the Western War Front would not renounce the resources it receives from the criminal income of drug trafficking.
Hard blow against the ELN
The operation against “Uriel” was even recognized by government opponents as a hard blow to the ELN guerrilla, the most forceful against that organization since Duque came to the presidency in 2018.
“Alias ’Uriel’ sowed violence during 25 years of a useless life that accumulated enormous damages. The path of violence is outlawed. Army and Prosecutor’s Office fulfilled their duty. Democratic criticism should not be blind. Being objective is recognizing successful operations” , recognized opposition senator Roy Barreras.
For his part, the Minister of Defense, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, said from Chocó that the “neutralization of the dangerous and terrorist alias ‘Uriel’, who did so much damage to Colombia” is a “very important step in creating more conditions of security”.
Regarding the operation, the attorney general, Francisco Barbosa, reported that in order to capture “Uriel” he ordered the search of a house in the Chocoano municipality of Nóvita and that during that proceeding there was “a confrontation” in which the guerrilla died.
Against crime in colcó
According to the Defense Ministry, its neutralization “contributes significantly to the reduction of forced recruitment of minors in the most vulnerable communities of Chocó, mainly indigenous populations.”
“Uriel” was appointed to lead the “ELN Youth Political School” for which it exercised “armed constraint” against “its victims.”
Last Tuesday, President Duque was in Quibdó where an armed gang threatened the inhabitants of that city with death if they breached the curfew they had ordered.
El Chocó, with coasts on the Pacific Ocean and bordering Panama, is one of the most convulsive regions of the country in which the ELN, the paramilitary Self-Defense Forces Gaitanistas of Colombia (AGC) and other criminal gangs operate that threaten and put them at constant risk. to its settlers.