Bogotá Editor, ColombiaINFORMA, May 30, 2023

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Brayan Camilo Carrillo Flores, 17 years old, described how he was arrested by Commandos from the ELN after being sent by the Dissidents to kill Manuel Sánchez and Eliécer Calderón. The events took place last May 6 in the town (vereda) of Nubes in the sector known as Matecoco in Arauca Department.

The youngster, who was being held by the ELN, described the events in a video released by the insurgent group.

According to Brayan Camilo, he was recruited by the Colombian Army in 2019, when he was only 13. They put him with two other teenagers, Michael Jiménez and Esteban Flores. “The man that was looking for us to give us some work to do was a Colonel in the Army. We know because the soldiers were always saying to him ‘mi coronel, the Chinos are here’.”. . .

“The Colonel made us collect information about the guerrillas in the towns of La Pesquera, Mata Oscura, Santa Clara and Los Colonos. Every time he needed information, he sent us to look for it and he said he would give us candy or soda pop. And we, to get the candy, gave him the information we had collected,” said the youngster.

Dissidents and the Colombian Army?

Brayan Camilo recounted that in 2021 he was used as a link by Héctor Aguilar, alias “Pescado” (Fish), the boss of the FARC Dissidents in the Department of Arauca. In 2022, when the conflict got worse in the region, Commandos from the ELN forced him to leave the region because of the work he had been doing for the so-called Dissidents.

“I got out of the Department of Arauca, and I headed for Aguachica, in Cesar. There, General Martínez  took me to the military base in Aguachica, Cesar. At that military base, we had approximately 15 boys. I remember that there was one named Michael, and another they called Tacho. Michael was a skinny kid, with tattoos. And the others, we were all of us about 15, 16, and 17 years old.” Brayan Camilo explained that in Aguachica he received military training from an instructor whose surname was Pedraza, who was in charge of teaching the boys to handle weapons, personal defense, and other things. After some 25 days of class, they gave him a final test, which he passed. “The Colombian Army put me in contact by telephone with “Pescado” and he came and told me that I should go to Arauca to work with him.”

Recruitment is repeated in Arauca

Last November 22, Colonel Ferney Vásquez, Commander of the Police Department in Arauca, reported that in the Municipality of Saravena two adolescents, 16 and 17 years old, were captured while carrying a grenade.

The Dawning of Women for Arauca Association (AMAR in Spanish) and the María Antonia Santos Plata Regional Association of Women complained at the end of 2022 that several minors are being used by the paramilitary criminal organizations, known as Dissidents, to attack social and community companies, local stores, and the homes of some social leaders. They said that through social media they had learned of several complaints by parents about the abduction of several minors in the Municipality of Saravena.

Meanwhile, last November 30 of 2022, the ELN reported that the minors Emerson Stiven Lozada, 17, and Joan Sebastián Tarazona Pérez, 16, were responsible for launching fragmentation grenades against social organizations and businesses in the Municipality of Saravena. The group said that the teenagers are being used by the military and police that are associated with the paramilitary group commanded by Antonio Medina, a known boss of the so-called Dissidents in Arauca.

Although Brayan Camilo Carrillo Flores right now is in the power of the ELN, it’s still not known when he will be turned over to a humanitarian committee so that the Colombian government can guarantee to the teenager the rights that have been taken from him, and furnish him with protection.

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