The supreme commander of rebel group ELN says the Colombian government has an “absurd and contradictory” attitude towards entering peace talks with the guerrillas.
ELN leader “Gabino” said the rebels were “ready and with spokespersons named” to initiate a dialogue with the government, while claiming the “silence” of the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos obstructed “the possibilities and contradicts the determined word.”
The 62-year-old rebel leader criticized the ongoing FARC-government peace talks in Havana, Cuba, claiming the warring parts “had not been able to harmonize the positions” about the future of Colombia.
On Wednesday, the ELN struck one of the biggest blows against the Colombian armed forces in recent years. In an ambush with explosives in the northern Norte de Santander department, rebels from the “Heroes and Martyrs” Front killed ten soldiers and wounded between five and eleven more.
According to retired police general and the director of the NGO Ciencia Política, Hernan Echavarria, Wednesday’s ELN ambush was an attempt by the rebels to pressure the government into peace talks.
“The ELN is searching for the attention of the state to initiate dialogues and according to the guerrilla logic … a peace process is preceded by attacks, to show they are strong and in a position to dialogue.”
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos said in early April he wanted peace talks with the ELN “sooner rather than later.”
The ELN, with some 2,000 to 3,000 armed members, has been fighting the Colombian state for almost half a century. The rebels were initially inspired by liberation theology and the Cuban revolution. The Colombian government has accused the group of being heavily involved in the country’s illegal drug trade, a claim denied by the ELN’s top leadership.
- Silencio del Gobierno genera “incertidumbre” sobre proceso de paz con el ELN: Gabino (Caracol Radio)
- Golpe del Eln a las tropas intenta mostrar fortaleza (El Colombiano)
- ELN niega vínculos con narcos (El Diario, Ecuador)