ELN stands for Ejército de Liberación Nacional, which translates to National Liberation Army in English. It is a Marxist guerrilla group and paramilitary organization based in Colombia. The ELN was formed in 1964 as a response to social inequality and government oppression in the country. The group has predominantly operated in rural areas, mainly targeting military and infrastructure assets, but have also engaged in kidnapping, extortion, and drug trafficking to finance their activities.
The ELN advocates for the overthrow of the Colombian government and the establishment of a socialist state. They draw ideological inspiration from Marxist theory and liberation theology, blending political and religious tenets. The group has often criticized what they perceive as the exploitation of Colombia's natural resources by foreign corporations and aims to redistribute wealth towards the impoverished population.
The ELN has been engaged in armed conflict with the Colombian government, as well as other paramilitary groups and drug cartels, leading to extensive violence and displacement. They have been involved in acts of terrorism and have been responsible for numerous bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations. The Colombian government has made several attempts to negotiate peace agreements with the ELN, but they have been met with mixed results, with occasional ceasefires followed by renewed hostilities.
Due to their long-standing presence and activities, the ELN is considered a major insurgency and terrorist organization in Colombia and has been designated as such by the United States and European Union.