Reports indicate that on November 25 a militant from the National Liberation Army (ELN) was killed following a security operation in the Bajo Baudó municipality in the Chocó Department. Five soldiers were wounded during an ensuing shootout. Security forces subsequently seized weapons, including a grenade launcher. Subsequently, on November 28 a prominent ELN member allegedly in charge of drug trafficking operations in the Catatumbo region in Norte de Santander was detained.
Additionally, on November 27, Pablo Beltrán, the ELN’s chief negotiator stated that the group’s leader, Nicolás Rodríguez, better known as “Gabino”, is currently receiving medical treatment in Cuba. Colombia had previously requested Cuba to inform about ELN activity and Gabino’s whereabouts in the island. Finally, on November 30 Spanish authorities announced that a wanted ELN militant was detained in Benissa, Alicante.
Confirmation that Gabino is currently in Cuba and that a wanted militant was detained in Spain underscores the group’s international capabilities, further confirming suspicions that Cuba is shielding militants who share an ideological affinity with Habana. As security operations against the ELN have increased in the aftermath of the peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), diplomatic pressure against Cuba is likely to increase, especially given Bogota’s reluctance to accept Cuban mediation vis-a-vis the ELN.