Antorcha Stereo: Guerrilla radio reaches Venezuela
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Antorcha Stereo: Guerrilla radio reaches Venezuela

Close to Venezuela’s border with Colombia a different kind of radio is transmitted across the airwaves.

Antorcha Stereo, headed by Carlos German Velasco Villamizar from Colombia’s second largest insurgent group the National Liberation Army (ELN) is broadcast at 2:30p.m. and 4:30p.m. in the Venezuelan state of Táchira, BBC Mundo reports.

“It’s this exclusion, this misery, this Colombia run by privileges which explains why Colombians have emigrated to Venezuela,” Velasco Villamizar comments.

Illegal activities

He refers to Nicolás Maduro’s mass expulsion of Colombian citizens residing along the Venezuelan border, which according to the president, were in cohorts with the paramilitary groups also operating in border states.

Yet Maduro it appears has not taken action against the guerrilla and paramilitary groups which do currently thrive from across border trade, making a living from contraband activities and extorting the local population.

“We can’t do anything because they (the guerrilla) are working with the government, they even say that they are here to “defend the revolution” (Bolivarian revolution).” Miguel a resident from the rural region of El Piñal who has been forced to pay out to the guerrilla, comments.

History of guerrilla groups

Guerrilla groups are nothing new in Colombo-Venezuela relations. Under the government of ex-president Álvaro Uribe then president Hugo Chávez broke off ties with the neighboring country after the Organization of American States (OEA) revealed around 1,500 paramilitaries were residing in Venezuela in 2010.

In current relations between Santos and Maduro, guerrilla groups – independent from the FARC – still continue to cause discussion, not least for the rural populations suffering as a result.

As peace looks closer to being reached between fellow insurgent group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, what next for the ELN?

Certainly there is talk of a peace process between the group and the government, but for now, listeners can tune in to a mix of traditional Colombian vallenato and traditional musical rhythms with a healthy dose of politics thrown into the mix.

See also:

Venezuela and Colombia reach an agreement: Has anything changed?

What next as Venezuela-Colombia border crisis worsens?