Gustavo Aníbal Giraldo, alias ‘Pablito’

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Gustavo Aníbal Giraldo Quinchía, alias “Pablito”, is a member of the ELN’s Central Command (Comando Central – COCE). He is one of the ELN’s most belligerent commanders and is critical of the peace talks between the ELN and the Colombian government.


Pablito joined the ELN in 1997 in Arauquita and the following year, he began commanding the Compañía Simacota, which was active in that territory.[1] In 2000, he became the commander of the Domingo Laín Sáenz Front of the Eastern War Front (Frente Domingo Laín Sáenz del Frente Oriental de Guerra). During his leadership, the Front grew its military strength and capabilities, and its influence in Arauca increased.

The Colombian army captured him in Bogotá in 2008, but in 2009 he escaped from prison in spectacular fashion. Since then, authorities in Colombia have put a US$600,000 price on his head.

Criminal Activities

Pablito is being sought by the United States on arms trafficking charges and for the kidnapping of American journalists. According to information from authorities, Pablito controls drug trafficking routes in the west of the country, as well as the profits generated. He is also accused of kidnapping, extortion, and of attacking oil infrastructure.


Pablito is the commander of the Eastern War Front, which operates in Arauca, Boyacá and Casanare (a region known as ABC). According to reports, the guerrilla boss moves easily between the department of Arauca and the state of Apuré in Venezuela where he is understood to have a camp, farms and a base from where to manage his drug trafficking networks. [2]

Allies and Enemies

Pablito has full control of his area of influencia. It seems that he is currently in Venezuela, which might indicate he has some support in the country.


The incorporation of Pablito into the COCE in 2015 was seen by many analysts as a strategic decision by the ELN’s highest commanders to involve him in the peace talks with the government and secure his support.

Considering that he is the commander of the ELN’s most important war front both in financial and military terms, a distancing and opposition on the part of Pablito and his troops would be fatal for the peace talks.

However, since talks began, it is clear that Pablito is the commander most opposed to the peace process. He has ordered many of the attacks that the ELN has committed since talks began and there are reports indicating that he could be recruiting FARC dissidents. This suggests Pablito could be preparing for a scenario in which the ELN does not demobilize and instead incorporates the criminal economies once controlled by the FARC.

[1] National Attorney General’s Office. Report with information Gustavo Anibal Guarín Qunchía. December 29, 2009.

[2] El Tiempo (2015). ‘Pablito’, el duro del Eln que es un enigma para la paz. Op. Cit.

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