ELN refuses to ban kidnapping, demands unconditional peace talks

Gabino (Still: YouTube)

The ELN, Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group, on Thursday refused to ban kidnapping, a condition  imposed by the government for initiating peace negotiations.

The leader of the ELN, Nicolas Rodriguez Bautista, alias “Gabino” posted a letter to President Juan Manuel Santos on the groups website “as a response to public statements in the media, placing conditions on the ELN to begin a dialogue.”

Santos last week stated that his government would not negotiate with the ELN “until all hostages are released and kidnapping is ceased.”

MORE: ELN Must Release Canadian Hostage Before Peace Talks Are Possible: Santos

Gabino responded that “we have publicly repeated our willingness to talk to the government, specifying that it must be a dialogue without conditions.”

“But the President has used the media to put conditions on the ELN. If so, the ELN has many conditions.” Gabino added.

Among these conditions, the guerrilla group want “the return to their origin of more than 5 million displaced, justice to the perpetrators and instigators of the false positives scandal and to improve the prison conditions for political prisoners.”

Gabino continued by discussing the conditions for the release of Jernoc Worbert, an executive of the Canadian mining transnational Braeval Mining. He states that the ELN have “requested that both the Colombian government and the Canadian company return the four mining titles that it fraudulently acquired, back to the people of Southern Bolivar.”

The government is currently in negotiations with the FARC, seeking a negotiated end to the armed conflict. The country’s largest rebel group banned kidnapping half a year before peace talks were announced in August last year.


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