SEMANA/Revelations | 1/19/2009 12:00:00 AM
How the Army major and the ELN commander arranged their military operations
This is a conversation that took place on September 1, 2006. In it, an Army major speaks with alias “Ernesto” commander of an ELN company, and they agree to a series of joint “operations.” Among other things, the guerrilla asks the major to take his Army troops out of several areas, including Betolle and Santo Domingo in the department of Arauca, so that the ELN can patrol without problems.
Ernesto: What’s new, my old man? Good morning.
Major: Fine, man. How have you been?
Ernesto: You remember that we spoke about a work plan?
Major: Yes sir.
Ernesto: The thing is that, well, in that in that plan we said that the patrols…
Ernesto: If they could back off towards the paved road so that they would let us patrol for two weeks here in the area.
Major: We spoke about the south, everything about the south, about La Tolla and Santo Domingo.
Ernesto: Exactly, exactly. That entire area. Everything from Cajón del Tusai to the paved road.
Major: We left that area free of men.
Ernesto: That’s right. So that we can work two weeks there and strike evenly up and down.
Ernesto: Let’s see what we get and then, well we’ll be in touch.
Major: That will start right now, we could say that, right?
Ernesto: Sure, my old man, if you want.
Major: Good. Look, I have the problem of the Army in Betolle (town in Arauca).
Major: In Barcelona.
Major: The following place is missing, Piñalito, more to the south. Further on from Piñalito, to the right of Piñalito, closer to Flor Amarillo.
Ernesto: Also there.
Major: And I have something there close to the Agrio.
Major: At the Limón.
Ernesto: At the Caño Limón?
Major: Yes sir.
Ernesto: Yes, that’s fine. That is fine there.
Major: From there up I don’t have anything, so we’ll direct everything downwards.
Major: Talk to me…
Ernesto: But is it true that there is a patrol around there at the sides of the Tabla bridge, there in the Caño Guarapo (a stream)?
Major: But it’s theirs. It’s from the FARC.
Ernesto: From the government there isn’t anything around there.
Major: No, no, no.
Major: There is, but it must be theirs (the FARC). You know whose it might be: “Tuerto” (“One-eyed”)
Major: Ours no.
Ernesto: Ah, alright, alright.
Major: We don’t have anything, nothing around there.
Ernesto: Fine, old man.
Major: And if there is then, no, no, well, no, no, no.
Ernesto: Take a look. Review things well with the men in charge of the operation and tell me, ok?
Major: Alright, I will call you right back in about 15 minutes.
Ernesto: For us not to be in clashes. We don’t want to run into you.
Major: Well, no problem, in 15 minutes I’ll call you.
Ernesto: Fine, my old man. Another thing…
Ernesto: Look, if you want to take out the troops from Barcelona, take them out of there and we will beat up all that shit (the FARC).
Major: Ah, OK, that’s great because there are plenty there.
Ernesto: If by chance there is a run-in with those guys (the FARC) we will let you know so that you go down and pick them up.
Major: Good, perfect. So I will take the troops (Army) down towards Betolle, right?
Ernesto: That’s right. Towards Betolle, or backing up towards the island.
Major: The island? The island?
Ernesto: The part of the river near the pavement.
Major: Fine, I understand. The place called Mata de Popocho.
Major: Down from the river.
Ernesto: That’s right, near the farm of “Cuchillo.”
Major: Right, correct, alright, alright, understood.
Ernesto: That’s right…. If you want, you can make your noises there and that way you will expel them (the FARC) closer to here or will make them run somewhere else.
Major: But not below the river. Between the river and the paved road.
Ernesto: Check out that area, and when you are there, then confirm to me if you are already there and we will beat up that shit.
Major: Alright, alright, I will confirm it with you. We could do that around there, between today and tomorrow.
Ernesto: Alright, alright, my old man.
Major: I could call you then at night to see how it turned out.
Major: Alright, alright, Ernesto.