A ceasefire with guerrilla group ELN resulted in Colombia’s first 100 days without armed conflict in more than half a century, but failed to prevent guerrilla violence, according to independent observers.
According to the Conflict Analysis Resource Center (CERAC), presumed ELN guerrillas killed 26 people in 33 possible violations of the first ceasefire since the group took up arms in 1964.
The guerrilla leadership accepted responsibility for the assassination of one community leader and one massacre.
In those 33 actions, 26 people were killed, three more were injured, 13 civilians were abducted, 14 were forcibly recruited (one of whom has not been released) and 452 people were forcibly displaced.
The Colombian armed forces did not violate the ceasefire, CERAC said in its final report on the 101-day ceasefire.
Security forces allegedly committed a massacre in October, but this was unrelated to the conflict with the ELN.
In spite of the persistence of violence, the truce had “enormous” benefits for the civilian population living in conflict areas, the think tank said.
The bilateral and temporary ceasefire between the ELN and the security forces led to a 100-day truce in the conflict with this guerrilla group and enormous benefits in terms of reducing insecurity and humanitarian risk. However, the risk reduction brought about by the ceasefire was not complete because of the ELN’s persistent violent actions against the civilian population.
According to CERAC, the expiry of the ceasefire on Tuesday almost instantly reversed the progress that was made to reduce violence.
After the ceasefire ended on January 10, the ELN carried out the following violent actions in three days:
- Four attacks on the oil infrastructure in Arauca, Boyaca and Casanare.
- Three attacks on the security forces in Arauca, in which two policemen and one soldier were killed and two soldiers were injured.
- In addition, the ELN engaged in combat with the Gulf Clan [AGC] in Choco, which leaves 300 civilians confined.
Also before the ceasefire expired, the CERAC registered an increasing number of suspected guerrilla violations.
The resumption of violence has caused put three provinces where the ELN is most active: Arauca, Choco and Nariño at extreme and imminent risk of violence, the CERAC said.
The ceasefire came into force on October 1 in an attempt to increase the chances of a peace agreement that would end the group’s armed uprising of more than half a century.
Secret talks have been ongoing since before 2014. Formal talks began in Quito, Ecuador in February last year.
The talks were formally suspended by the president after the ELN resumed attacks on infrastructure and security forces that had paused during the truce.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will meet with President Juan Manuel Santos and the chief negotiator in the talks with the ELN on Saturday.
Both Santos and the ELN have expressed their wish to resume a ceasefire and agree to a final end of the armed conflict before the president leaves office in August.