Colombia’s last-standing guerrilla group, the ELN, said Monday that its shutdown of parts of the country over the weekend was a “complete success.”
The ELN’s Eastern War Front, which is active along the Venezuelan border, additionally apologized for the “inconvenience caused to the people in general” in the guerrilla offensive that left one soldier dead, six members of the security forces and one bus driver injured.
The guerrilla division commanded by “Lenin” rejected the death threat against the director of the regional television station of the Arauca province, claiming this was part of “the dirty war plan of the enemies of peace, whose policy is to generate fear, terror and death.”
The ELN’s national command “congratulated” the Colombian people “for the good behavior of not sabotaging or endangering their lives and property” by obeying guerrilla orders.
Apart from being an annual commemoration of the guerrillas’ first attack on state forces in 1965, the rebel chiefs said the armed strike was also in protest of “bad governance” and the refusal of President Ivan Duque to resume peace talks he suspended when taking office in 2018.
The Armed Strike is also an action of protest against the bad government, against its refusal to dialogue with the people the just demands expressed in the mobilizations since November 21, as well as against the repressive measures and the murders of social and community leaders.
ELN central command
In a response, Peace Commissioner Miguel Ceballos said Tuesday that the guerrilla offensive sought to “generate terror” and that the ELN “doesn’t want peace.”
This year’s guerrilla shutdown was the most impressive in years partly because of the security forces’ apparent retreat from ELN territories, leaving civilians at the mercy of the rebels.
Instead of coordinating a state response to the terror campaign, both Duque and Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo went on a “spiritual retreat” in the presidential holiday home.
“Armed strikes” are not just carried out by the ELN and are often used by illegal armed groups to show their strength and demonstrate the state’s failure to protect its citizens.