Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group expressed its uncertainty of whether the current peace talks between FARC and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos is the actual “path to peace”.
In an editorial in “Insurgencia” magazine, the ELN criticized the government’s refusal to discuss Colombia’s social and political order, saying without changes to the country’s socioeconomic model, any dialogue “is doomed to perish and be nothing but frustration.”
“If the provision of peace that President Santos [is raising] does not open doors in that direction [changes to Colombia’s socioeconomics], the horizon is uncertain and very risky,” wrote the ELN.
This sentiment was shared by the FARC’s chief negotiator “Ivan Marquez” who said on October 18 that the only sustainable way to end the FARC’s 48-year-long-war with the state was to implement comprehensive economic and social reforms.
Though the government has said Colombia’s economic model is not up for debate, agrarian reform is part of the agreed upon agenda, something Senate President Roy Barreras called, “the exception to the rule”.
What both rebel groups say they are seeking is what is known as “positive peace”, which addresses the roots of a conflict rather than just a cease fire, or a “negative peace”.
Though political participation of the FARC is a central tenet of the ongoing peace talks, the Colombian government has made it abundantly clear that they will not “cease military operations” until a peace accord has been reached.
It is not easy to outline a future scenario in Colombia “in which the guerrillas can act without fear of being killed by legal and illegal forces of the state,” wrote the ELN.
The ELN indicated an interest in participating in peace talks with the government after it was announced the FARC would, but no ELN representatives have taken part in this current round of negotiations.