The leader of Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group, the ELN, is confident that exploratory peace talks with the government are days from being formalized.
According to Macondo Radio, ELN chief Nicolas “Gabino” Rodriguez, declared on Wednesday that there is little wait before the two parties can begin peace talks, similar to those that are currently coming to a close between the FARC guerrilla group and the government in Havana.
“I confirm that we are now lacking three percent [to start peace dialogues]. I am reaffirming my optimism and i hope that the ELN and the Colombian government will have good news for society in the next few days,” assured Gabino.
ELN areas of influence
The ELN has been an active participant in Colombia’s armed conflict since it was fdounded in 1964, and announced informal peace talks with the government in June 2014, five days before the reelection of President Juan Manuel Santos.
Through a rebel radio station on August 25, Gabino broadcast similar optimism, “I am optimistic and calculate that [the informal talks] have advanced by 85 to 90% in the agenda that has been agreed with the government. We are very close to starting the public phase.”
On Wednesday, the ELN commander said that the talks are “in the final leg before entering the public phase,” and hopes that as well as promoting disarmament, they will “overcome the use of violence for political problems.”
Gabino however, was unable to add specific details, as the process in its informal stage is currently confidential.
A lot of optimism and hope for Colombia was continued to be expressed as the rebel leader praised Colombian society for playing a “leading role” in the path to peace, and hoped that the country can “overcome the weight of more than half a century of continuous conflict.”
On their webpage the ELN states that they are committed to a peace process in which their members will not be “impoverished, criminalized and persecuted so that they can become political actors.”
The ELN has been at war with the Colombian state since its formation in 1964. If the group is able to formalize talks with the Santos administration, they will coincide with talks held with the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC.