Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, has announced a series of proposals to the national government that could see the guerrillas put a halt to its longstanding offensive against the country’s energy infrastructure, as detailed in a press release published on the ELN website Monday.
The ELN Central Command said it is “prepared to reconsider a military ceasefire against the natural oil infrastructure” if the Colombian government follows the seven-part list of demands detailed in the document.
Framed as a series of preventative measures against the “sacking and pillaging of natural resources” by multinationals such as Canadian company Pacific Rubiales Energy, the largest independent oil company in Colombia, the requests are in the best interest of the national economy and environment, according to the rebel group.
The ELN proposals read as follows:
- Remove mining-energy projects from lands belonging to Indigenous Reserves and Natural Parks
- Reparation, compensation and payment for environmental and social damage caused by the exploitation of natural oil
- Social tax of $10 per barrel [of oil] extracted, which must be paid by the multinationals and delivered directly to communities for the Alternative Development Plans (Planes Alternativos de Desarrollo).
- Payment for the damage caused to properties through which oil pipelines and the associated infrastructure pass.
- Reduction of fuel prices of up to 50%, which in six months increased to $85 per gallon.
- Elimination of transport tolls and nationalization of all the country’s routes.
- For royalties to return to the value of 20% of production and for the re-establishment of the percentages that used to be given to municipalities and departments involved in [oil]production and exploitation.
The move is part of a broader push on the part of the ELN to initiate peace talks with the Colombian government along the lines of those currently being held in Havana, Cuba with the FARC, the country’s largest rebel group. The ELN has been actively seeking a formal peace process for at least a year now, trading a kidnapped Canadian energy contractor last summer for the promise of preliminary talks with the government.
Indeed, also on Monday, the “National Liberation Army,” as the guerrilla group calls itself, published an open letter calling on 60 of the country’s intellectuals — including former Bogota Mayor Antanas Mockus and writer William Ospina — to contribute to peace in Colombia by spearheading a public movement for peace talks with ELN.
So far, however, talks remain elusive, and after last summer’s hostage exchange proved unfruitful, the ELN revamped its longstanding strategy of targeting the oil pipelines that run through the rural areas in which the rebel group remains most active.
Although Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos met with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa late last month, reportedly to discuss, among other things, the possibility of Ecuador playing host to a potential peace talks with the ELN, the Office of the President denied that any such conversation was held, telling Colombia Reports that no progress has been made toward a second peace process.
So far the government has not responded to the ELN’s most recent proposal. In the past, the rebel’s open letters and other public releases have gone unanswered by Colombian authorities, and the tactic of pressuring the government using military force has yet to bear results, as the Colombian military continues its offensive against the guerrillas.
- Comunicado a la Opinión Pública: Ataques del ELN a la Petrolera Pacific Rubiales (ELN Official Website)
- Carta Abierta a los Intelectuales de Colombia (ELN Official Website)
- Estas son las propuestas del ELN para cesar ataques a la infraestructura (Blu Radio)
- ELN sugiere a intelectuales que formen un movimiento por la paz (CM&)
- Capital Group Cuts Pacific Rubiales Stake as Shares Drop (Bloomberg)