Bernasconi Attilio

The Last Guerrilla : An Ethnography of the National Liberation Army in Colombia

Sous la direction de M. Goodale, Université de Lausanne


In April 2016, the Colombian government began meeting with the ELN (National Liberation Army) leadership in Quito (Ecuador) to initiate negotiations toward a peace agreement. A peace process that, differently from the one with the FARC (achieved with a peace agreement signed on June 2016) is focused on the participation of the “civil society” and the Colombian ethnics groups.

To date, the ELN controls different territories in the Colombian departments of Cauca, Chocó and Nariño, i.e. areas along the Pacific coast inhabited predominantly by black communities whose identities are intrinsically related to the relationship between everyday practices and the lived space. The latter becomes a territory through a process of cultural sedimentation in space and time resulting from the different activities accomplished by a community in interaction with the geographical space.

This thesis aims to analyze one of the main objectives of the peace process agenda, namely the rural reform and its declared objective of improved land accessibility, formalized agricultural properties and bolstered rural infrastructure. Therefore, the thesis will focus on the importance the ELN and the Colombian government ascribe in their negotiations to the Afro-descendant inhabitants. Particular attention will be conferred to the eventual participation of the communities in the dialogue concerning the gold mining activities in the territories controlled by the guerilla, their autonomy and thus the role accorded to the Community Councils in the discussion with the ELN and the government. Another important topic will be the securing of the rights of the Afro-descendant population as victims of the internal conflict, especially when it comes to the significance of their territories and their claim to remain on them.