Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, expressed its discomfort on Monday over the confidentiality of ongoing peace talks with the government. According to the guerrillas, these should be held publicly.
In a statement published on the guerrillas’ website, the ELN’s Central Command said that “for us it would’ve been better if we could permanently inform about the way these talks are going and the country objectively could know the steps of the talks.”
According to the rebels, the government insisted on secrecy, making this elementary for the talks to take place.
However, “we have never shared this criteria because a real peace process should be carried out facing the nation”
“It would have been in the interest of all sectors of society to know the issues related to the setting of an agenda and the framework to guide the process towards peace,” said the ELN.
The ELN on several occasions has expressed frustration about the talks, their progress and the agreed confidentiality.
However, President Juan Manuel Santos said last month that the peace process with the ELN will remain confidential until there is something concrete to announce.
Santos announced the existence of the talks in June, only five days before elections in which he secured a second term in office in spite of low approval ratings.
However, according to the ELN, these talks have “hardly” made progress since then.
The group, exceeded in size only by the FARC, has been fighting the Colombian state since 1964. The guerrillas made several unsuccessful attempts to negotiate peace with the state over the past decades. The rebel organization is thought to have some 3,000 armed fighters and another few thousand unarmed supporting activists mainly in their strongholds and in public universities.