An ELN commander on Wednesday said that little progress has been made in talks between government authorities and ELN rebels, and that talks are going progressing slowly.
In the video, ELN commander “Pablo,” is interviewed by two masked ELN troops and interviewed about relations with rebel group FARC and progress in government peace negotiations.
Gustavo Anibal Giraldo Quinchia, nom de guerre “Pablo,” spectacularly escaped prison in eastern Colombia in October 2009.
President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the government had been involved in “exploratory talks” with ELN as a means of arranging peace talks, such as those currently underway in Havana, with Colombia´s largest armed guerrilla group FARC.
However, following the announcement made five days before the elections, the talks have not been formalized and Santos on Tuesday ordered his cabinet members to keep their mouth shut about the preliminary talks.
In the video, Pablo stated that the ELN’s peace talks with the government officials are barely making progress.
The ELN commander points the finger of blame at the government for attempting to misrepresent the will of ELN to come to a peaceful conclusion, and claims Bogota is trying to force the ELN to surrender rather than engaging in a two-sided compromise.
“The claim that dialogues between the government and ELN exist is true, but the progress of these agreements is minimal,” said Pablo.
“The faculties of our headquarters, headed by Central Command and our commander Nicolas Bautista Rodriguez [a.k.a “Gabino”], are willing to engage in the dialogues, assuming that the government shows recognition of our force and our revolutionary reality of which the state confuses and confounds, and tries to misinform as is custom of bourgeois oligarchies, and begins to make irresponsible reviews saying that ELN does not want to be involved,” said the ELN ring commander.
“They lack the courage to say that what ELN is unwilling to do is to submit to the will of the government and the Colombian bourgeoisie, which is a submission and not a negotiation,” Pablo added in the 13-minute-long video.
Despite formally agreeing to peace talks with the Colombian government in early July 2014 the ELN openly declared three days of open hostilities against businesses and transportation services throughout the northeast to commemorate the organization’s 50th anniversary.
The ELN’s larger counterpart, the FARC, and government representatives have been involved in peace talks since November 2012 in Havana, Cuba in a process which is reported to be showing positive results while already taking more than double the time President Juan Manuel Santos had promised when announcing the peace talks.
Both sides have already approved three of the six points of a complex agenda concerning rural reform, political participation, and illicit drugs, and are now discussing the fourth chapter, reparations for victims.
Both government officials and FARC representatives have expressed their will to put an end to a bloody civil conflict which has lasted more than 50 years.