Colombia’s second largest guerrilla says it will take responsibility for its part in the 50-year armed conflict, but demands that the government recognize the “political nature” of the insurgence.
The top commander of National Liberation Army (ELN) stated in an open letter on Monday that the guerrilla group will answer for their part in the armed conflict that has terrorized Colombia and its citizens for 50 years.
“The National Liberation Army takes responsibility for its involvement in the 50-year confrontation with the state,”said Nicolas Rodriguez Bautista (alias “Gabino”).
However, the commander stressed that in order to negotiate a peace, the government must recognize the conflict’s political origin, and guarantee that no one is excluded, murdered, or prosecuted for their political ideas.
Gabino argued that the Colombian insurgency is a product of the left’s inability to find legal avenues for political action following the 1948 murder of popular political leader Jorge Gaitan.
MORE: Colombia marks 64th anniversary of Gaitan assassination
Gabino reiterated his concern that parts of the government and parliament perceive peace as a “submission and surrender of the insurgency, and see the government as the entity to which the insurgency must submit.”
The letter addressed to Gloria Gaitan, daughter of assassinated former liberal leader Jorge Gaitan, in response to a letter she wrote to the president. In her letter, Gloria Gaitan told President Santos that the Colombian government needs to recognize that the armed conflict was initiated by the government in 1946, according to reports by Colombian magazine Semana.
Promise of peace talks
Five days before the second round of the president election Santos announced peace talks with ELN. Now, more than ten weeks later, there is still no news of no peace negotiations with Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group. Santos was accused of making the announcement to improve his chances of reelection by supporters of the president candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga.
MORE: 7 weeks after controversial announcement, still no word on ELN talks
In the last two months, the ELN has allegedly upscaled its attacks on energy infrastructure to gain leverage and force the Colombian government to initiate peace talks with ELN.
MORE: ‘ELN attacking energy infrastructures to pressure Colombia govt into peace talks’: report
Plagued by consistent and increased attacks on its pipeline infrastructure by guerrilla groups, Colombia’s largest oil producer, government-owned Ecopetrol, has been forced to use more costly means of transporting its crude from wells to export hubs. Ecopetrol has seen its stock price depreciate 46% since its peak in 2012 and 13% since August 2013.
MORE: Colombia’s EcoPetrol stock price falls 46% from 2012 peak, 13% on year
- GABINO: “El Conflicto es de Naturaleza Política” (ELN website)
- ELN dice que asumirá su responsabilidad (Semana)