Colombian President Requests Colombian ELN Guerrilla’s Discretion

By Dialogo
November 19, 2012

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos requested the ELN guerrillas’ “discretion” on November 14 as they approach peace talks, after that group announced over the weekend that they had already chosen delegates for peace talks.

“We have understood that any approach with any group has to be ruled by a series of principles, and one of them is discretion,” said Santos, who is currently in Lisbon.

“If the ELN wants some kind of approach, they must respect this principle. In due course we will respond through the adequate channels; the worst thing we can do is to start answering or dialoguing through the media,” added the head of state, according to a presidential press release.

Santos’ remarks come after the National Liberation Army (ELN), the second largest Colombian guerrilla group with 2,500 combatants, announced that its delegation “is already formed and ready to honor Colombia in an exploratory dialogue with the government.”

The ELN statement occurs a few days before the peace talks start in Havana with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in combat since 1964 and currently consisting of 9,200 guerrilla members.

In that respect, Santos thanked Cuba for its support, which together with Norway, is serving as a guarantor in the peace process with the FARC.

“I want to thank Cuba for being a host, as well as for helping us enormously in this coordination. The way Cuba has collaborated deserves our recognition, our gratitude,” he said.

Santos’s government and the FARC formally launched their peace process on October 18 in Oslo, and on November 19, they started conversations in Havana with a five-point agenda: rural development, illicit drugs, political participation, disarmament, and victims.

This dialogue is taking place without a ceasefire in Colombia.