The United States should take responsibility for its role in Colombia’s armed conflict, said local rebel group ELN on Sunday.
The ELN is holding exploratory talks with the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, while the much larger FARC rebel group is engaged in formal talks with the Colombian government to seek a negotiated end of 50 years of armed conflict.
In an editorial on its website, the group praised Washington’s recent decision to appoint a special envoy to these talks.
“We welcome this decision by the US, but we believe that their role should not remain to be that of an innocent observer, or an illustrious adviser, or a happy composer, and much less the impartial judge,” the ELN said.
Instead, the rebels want the US to take part in the talks “as directly responsible for the war and its disasters” and “make commitments to rebuild commitments.
The United States has long had ties with Colombia and provided the funds and intelligence that have been key in the Colombian government’s ability to push both rebel groups away from cities and into the country’s periphery.
However, according to the ELN, the role of the United States in Colombia has much longer roots and has been more destructive than Washington would admit.
The armed conflict
The rebels bashed the 1823 Monroe Doctrine that promoted US military intervention in the Americas in case a European power would try to colonize territories in the new world.
The ELN went onto criticize the 19th century Manifest Destiny, a belief held by some settlers that the US was destined to expand throughout the Americas, or as the ELN said, “destined to submit the continent and the world to its interests and institutions.”
Following the Second World War, the United States’ focus on combating communism justified “starting wars across the continent,” said the ELN.
“The war that Colombia has suffered in the last 70 years, including the  murder of [leftist presidential candidate] Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, has been determined by US guidelines. The Pentagon and the CIA were the designers of Low Intensity Conflict and State Terrorism, which in our country has cost millions of lives,” the ELN said.
The rebels said the US should give the example in renouncing violence and “assume the serious costs of of their militaristic policies and commit to world peace.”
The ELN was formed in 1964 based on Liberation theology, a radically leftist interpretation of the Christian faith that calls on worshipers to fight injustice. The rebel group has since — like the FARC — tried to overthrow the Colombian government it describes as and oligarchy.
The ELN is mostly active in the western Choco state and in the northeastern Catatumbo region. Exploratory talks with the government were announced in June, five days before the president’s re-election, but have yet to be formalized.