The group circulated a notice demanding that transportation business within the department cease operations starting at midnight on Tuesday.
The notice claimed that this strike is for the “defense of the territory,” but did not specify who or what the strike is defending or what threat it is defending from.
“Armed strikes” as the economic shutdowns are called are common practice for rebel groups like the FARC and the ELN, providing them with a way to demonstrate control over an area.
Tensions in the region are already high, following the FARC kidnapping of a Colombian army general in the same region last week.
Colombia’s government and the FARC have been negotiating the general’s release, along with two other hostages who were captured by FARC rebels in Choco.
Local pastor Albeiro Parra told local newspaper El Meridiano de Cordobasaid that “the ELN’s announcement will aggravate the situation.” He noted that the ELN already has significant control over two roadways within the region. The diminished military operations could mean that the ELN may aim for more control.
The strike represents a continuation of hostile actions despite ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and rebel groups.
The ELN is currently holding preliminary peace talks with the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos. Once the warring parties agree to formal talks. According to the ELN, the rebels want a bilateral ceasefire for the duration of formal talks.
- Paro armado del ELN en Chocó (El Meridiano)
- ELN anunció paro armado en el departamento del Chocó (Blu Radio)
- Mindefensa: “no hay operaciones en el Chocó” (Semana)