Colombia/Venezuela: Armed Groups Control Lives at Border

Armed groups use brutal violence to control peoples’ daily lives in the eastern Colombian province of Arauca and the neighboring Venezuelan state of Apure.



Here we have to do as they say or you die.

Tamara Taraciuk Broner

We’re here in Arauca at the border of Colombia with Venezuela. Here, social control is evident. Two armed groups set the rules and no one dares misbehave.

Merchant, Arauca Province

The armed illegal group is the one that sets the rules where I live. In the municipality where I live is the ELN.

Voice Over

In both the eastern Colombian province of Arauca and the neighboring Venezuelan state of Apure non-state armed groups use violence to control people’s daily lives.


The rules are… you can’t talk to the army, you can’t leave the house late at night. If we don't comply with the rules, the penalty is death.

Voice Over

The armed groups threaten civilians, subjecting those who do not obey to punishments ranging from fines to forced labor and murder.

Kidnapping Survivor

I was in a canteen that day. I don’t know [how it happened] I didn’t do anything. I didn’t insult him… or look at him strange. The guy got close to me and pushed me. Yes, he pushed me.

Early the next morning a car arrived. They tied me up, they blindfolded me

and took me in the car. We crossed a river and they took me to a farm. I knew I was in Venezuela I was working there for seven months, seven months for which I never received any money. They never paid me. They never gave me anything.

Voice Over

Countless victims live in silence and fear as armed groups act on both sides of the border with close to absolute impunity.


I would like to go with my daughter and have some quiet. Some place where people live a good life without humiliations.


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