“This legal framework is clearly contradictory, it did not consult the opinion of the insurgency, a natural part in the development of any attempt at peace,” claimed ELN leader Nicolas Rodriguez Bautista, alias “Gabino.”
Gabino reiterated ELN’s willingness to participate in peace talks but warned, “The Legal Framework for Peace opens the door to impunity for crimes committed against the people by politicians, the military, the police and the paramilitaries.”
ELN issued the statement as a response to “Colombians for Peace” (CCP), led by outspoken ex-senator Piedad Cordoba, which suggested ELN join the ongoing dialogue between the government and largest guerrilla group FARC.
The chairman of the peace committee of the House of Representatives also called for Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group ELN to join the peace talks. “The government should include the ELN in these dialogues because the cease-fire will be useless if we don’t have a peace process at the same time with this armed organization,” said chairman Joaquin Camelo last week.
A day after Santos officially confirmed his administration had begun preliminary talks with FARC, Gabino said his group was willing to take part in the peace talks.
“Our command has clearly expressed that the ELN is willing to begin a dialogue with the current government, in a serious, responsible, respectful process without traps and without hostility that facilitates the re-establishment of trust and generates a favorable environment to tackle the causes of the armed conflict,” ELN’s leader said.
Santos has not specified what role, if any, ELN will have in the upcoming negotiations with FARC.