Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, said Monday that profound ideological differences and a lack of confidence in the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos have kept preliminary peace negotiations in a deadlock.
In an editorial published on their website on Monday, the guerrillas said it is “unlikely” to take part in formal peace negotiations.
“In almost two years of provisional talks with the current government, we have only come across profound differences in how we understand peace. While for the government peace means demobilization, impunity, pacification and a small change only to keep everything else intact, for ELN peace is social justice, democracy, equity and sovreignty,” explained ELN.
The group and the government announced talks five days before presidential elections in June, but have since failed to formalize the peace talks while the rebels have complained over a lack of progress.
With reference to the recent suspension of negotiations with the FARC in the wake of the capture of a general, the ELN pointed out to inconsistencies on the part of the government in securing a peace deal with Colombia’s rebel groups while resisting a bilateral ceasefire.
“When peace talks held in the midst of a military conflict are suspended solely because the FARC carries out military operations, it’s troubling. It breaks the rules of the game, generates mistrust, makes the peace process weaker than ever,” the statement read.
According to the group that’s been in arms since 1964, the suspension of the FARC peace talks in Cuba brings to light the true motivation of the current administration, which according to the ELN is using peace more as a media spectacle and mere distraction.
“It’s all smoke and mirrors from the government,” the ELN said.
If the government truly wants peace, said ELN, it should show this through concrete actions, which would curb the impact of the war. One of such good will gestures would be to enact the bilateral ceasefire pushed by FARC and “backed by society.”
Failing to do so the government joins the long list of anti-democratic regimes involved in “imperialist wars condemned by history,” the guerrilla group said.
Additionally, the ELN reaffirmed that it has dedicated itself to searching for a different solution other than war. “However, the government has never offered a unified voice truly committed to peace,” explained the article.
The guerrilla emphasized that in spite of the proposal to end the military confrontation sent out by Santos’ government, it is hard to look past the “reality of anti-democracy, poverty, exclusion and displacement,” championed by the current administration.
“Without solutions to these problems, which historically have been the bottom line of the Colombian conflict, the social conflict will not cease,” said the guerrilla group.
In order to stop the deception, the Santos administration has to offer concrete plans for changes that would “make the majority of Colombians a priority.”
The Marxist ELN was founded in 1964 and has since taken part in several unsuccessful peace talks.
- Vendiendo Humo (ELN)
- ELN asegura que no hay avances en diálogos con el Gobierno (El Espectador)