Guerrilla activities in Buenaventura, including forced recruitment of young males, and government activities to combat these activities since 1995 [COL30303.E]

For information on the areas of activities and guerrilla recruitment of youths, please consult Responses COL29839.E of 7 August 1998 and COL29835.E of 6 August 1998.

Besides the reference to FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) "conscription" of minors without specification of gender in COL29835.E, an IPS 20 November 1997 report refers to the "release" of minors held by the ELN (National Liberation Army) negotiated by the government. The report adds that although exact numbers are not available, one non-governmental organization estimated the number of minors directly involved in insurgent groups at 2,000 (IPS 20 Nov. 1997).

Please note that besides the two recent references cited above, various reports consulted simply refer to guerrilla "recruitment" of minors (for example, IPS 14 Nov. 1996; IPS 9 Dec. 1997), without specifying the means or nature of such recruitment, and no reports specifically referring to recruitment of minors in Buenaventura could be found among the sources consulted.

No detailed breakdown of current areas of guerrilla activity could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, January 1997 reports mention a FARC attack against a unit of naval infantry soldiers from the 6th Battalion stationed at Buenaventura which occurred at Juradó municipality in Chocó department, north of the port city of Buenaventura. In this attack four soldiers were killed, eight wounded, and at least nine captured (Presidencia 16 Jan. 1997; El Espectador 22 Jan. 1997). One of the reports cites the head of the armed forces of Colombia as saying that the areas of Colombia most affected by guerrilla activities were the departments of Arauca, Guaviare, Caquetá, Putumayo, Cauca, Nariño, Cesar and the Urabá region (El Espectador 22 Jan. 1997). The same report adds that the guerrilla forces maintain a presence in at least 500 of the country's 1,013 municipalities (ibid.).

Besides armed attacks, references to guerrilla activities in rural areas under its control or significant influence are described in a 20 September 1998 article from The Washington Post available through your Regional Documentation Centre. However, these do not necessarily occur in the city or environs of Buenaventura, which is Colombia's main port. The most recent report of guerrilla attacks in Buenaventura refer to an early-August 1998 coordinated country-wide offensive by the ELN and the FARC, which included at least one car-bomb that destroyed a police station in the city of Buenaventura (AFP 5 Aug. 1998; The Seattle Times 5 Aug. 1998).

After years of legal and military measures to fight guerrilla activities, the newly-elected government of Andres Pastrana has engaged in peace talks with the FARC that have resulted in a temporary cease-fire and a possible demilitarization, which could begin in late-1998, in some areas affected by FARC and counter-insurgency activities, with an aim to ending the armed conflict. However, the ELN did not agree to a cease-fire and has continued armed actions. Media reports available through your Regional Documentation Centre can provide more information on this issue.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


El Espectador [Bogota]. 22 January 1997. "Fuerzas Armadas alistan ofensiva por la democracia." [Internet] [Accessed 21 Oct. 1998]

Inter Press Service (IPS). 9 December 1997. Yadira Ferrer. "Colombia: OAS Reports Drastic Human Rights Situation." (NEXIS)

_____. 20 November 1997. Yadira Ferrer. "Colombia-Rights: Move to Get Children Out of War Zone." (NEXIS)

_____. 14 Nov. 1996. Yadira Ferrer. "Colombia-Children: Both Victims and Victimizers."(NEXIS)

Presidencia de Colombia, Bogota. 16 January 1997. "Secuestrados 9 infantes de marina por las FARC." [Internet] 9701167.htm [Accessed 21 Oct. 1998]

The Seattle Times. 5 August 1998. Juanita Darling. "Colombian Rebels Stage Brutal Attacks." [Internet] altcolo_090598.html [Accessed 21 Oct. 1998]

Additional Sources Consulted

Andean Newsletter [Lima]. 1995-98.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Reports. 1995-96.

Latinamerica Press [Lima]. 1995-98.

Latin American Regional Reports: Andean Group Report [London]. 1995-98.

NACLA Report on the Americas [Washington, DC]. 1995-98.

News from Human Rights Watch [New York]. 1995-98.

Newspapers and periodicals pertaining to the appropriate region.

Electronic sources: IRB Databases, Global NewsBank, REFWORLD (UNHCR Database), World News Connection (WNC).
Note: This list is not exhaustive. Country-specific books available in the Resource Centre are not included.