Colombian ELN Guerrillas Want Peace Talks

By Dialogo
November 14, 2012

The National Liberation Army (ELN), the second largest guerrilla group in Colombia, stated it was ready to start peace talks with President Juan Manuel Santos’ government, joining the process that started between the government and the main insurgent movement in the country, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

“We told the country and the national community that the ELN delegation is ready to start preliminary peace talks with the government and honor our promise to Colombia,” said an insurgent statement, published with the title “Open Letter to Peace Talks in Havana,” on the ELN’s website.

In this respect, it said that the “Colombian government and the FARC, as well as important national and international sectors, have expressed an interest in having the ELN start a conversation process in the search for peace.”

On August 27, President Santos announced his decision to initiate a peace process with the FARC, and he seemed open to also have the ELN participate in the talks.

Peace talks were formally settled in Oslo, Norway, on October 18, between representatives of Santos’ government and the FARC, Latin America’s longest-fighting rebel group.

The peace talks with the FARC are scheduled to start on November 19 in Havana, Cuba.

This is the fourth peace negotiation attempt between the government of Colombia and the FARC, the last of which failed just a decade ago.

In a letter dated November 12, the ELN, composed of about 2,500 combatants, were urged to “agree to a bilateral cease fire while the peace talks are taking place,” considering that “creating a non-confrontational environment could help generate the confidence and conditions needed for the society to participate in a more active and leading role.”

Furthermore, the ELN proposed the inclusion of “social movements of all kinds in the peace process, including regional processes, political organizations, democratic personalities, intellectuals, artists, trade unions, indigenous communities, and particularly the victims of conflict.”

Peace talks between the FARC and Santos’ government are being carried out without a combat truce and without civil participation at the tables.