Colombia’s second-largest rebel group ELN took responsibility for “over 50 attacks” against petroleum operations and the armed forces in the northeastern state of Arauca while listing conditions to end the offensive in the area, according to newspaper El Colombiano.
The newspaper reported that a press release from ELN spokesperson Manuel Vasquez Castaño threatened more attacks “against the multinational capital oligopolies” unless the government met their list of conditions: retraction of mining projects in national parks and indigenous reserves; the remediation and payment for environmental and social damages caused by petroleum mining; a tax of $10 for every barrel of oil sold to multinationals; and the elimination of tolls on roadways.
According to local media, recent rebel attacks in the area include the taking of police and army hostages, attacks on petroleum infrastructure, road closures, and kidnappings.
Arauca Mayor Luis Emilio Tovar denounced the guerrilla attacks and threats. He told El Colombiano that the guerrillas were “terrorists” who had “lost their way [by] believing that killing, kidnapping and blocking roads will achieve their objectives.”
Following the initiation of peace talks with Colombia’s largest rebel group FARC just over a year ago, the ELN has signaled a public willingness to sit down and find a “political exit” to the long-standing insurrection in the rural areas of Colombia. They have asked that the Catholic Church be involved in any potential negotiations.
The ELN, formed in the 1960s under a Christian-Marxist ideology, has been a key player in Colombia’s 49-year armed conflict.
- Eln se atribuye ataques en Arauca y lanza amenazas (El Colombiano)
- El ELN se atribuye más de 50 ataques en Arauca antes de poner sus condiciones para negociar un acuerdo de paz (notimerica.com)