Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos reassured that contacts with the country’s second largest rebel group, ELN, to initiate a peace process were “on the right track,” Colombian media reported on Thursday.
During his visit to Brasilia, Brazil to support Colombia in the World Cup, President Santos told the press that he could not reveal details about the peace talks with the rebel group as there is a “confidentiality agreement with ELN,” but he did say that things were going well, according to Colombia’s El Espectador newspaper.
The announcement of preliminary peace talks with ELN was made by the Colombian government just days before last Sunday’s presidential elections, in which Santos was re-elected.
Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, have been in peace talks with the Colombian government since 2012. The peace talks have produced historic progress, with agreements signed on three of six agenda items and with the FARC’s unprecedented acknowledgement of its own role as victimizer in the armed conflict.
Santos’ statements come after a meeting with Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff in the capital of Brasilia.
The Colombian head of state traveled to Brazil to support Colombia’s second World Cup match against the Ivory Coast. The trip abroad is Santos’ first of his second term as president after he was re-elected in Sunday’s second round election.
From Brasilia, Santos expressed his appreciation of the Brazilian government’s role in the peace talks, saying that “Brazil has been actively involved in this process” and “has helped a lot since the beginning,” El Espectador reported.
The ELN (National Liberation Army) and the government have been fighting since 1964. Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group, the ELN, was originally formed as a Marxist-Leninist/Liberation Theology movement.
Today; however, the group currently bears little resemblance to its founding ideology. The ELN regularly kidnaps and targets multinational oil corporations in its rebellious acts, as its strongholds are found in oil-rich areas.
The ELN currently has about 2,000 combatants as opposed to the 8,000 currently fighting with larger Colombian rebel group, the FARC.
FACT SHEET: ELN (National Liberation Army)