Colombian Peace Commissioner Rodrigo Rivera dismissed Tuesday calls by the National Liberation Army, ELN, for renewed peace talks as "rosy declarations" incompatible with "terrorist facts on the ground."
Peace talks between the Colombian government and the ELN have remained frozen since Jan. 10, after a negotiated temporary ceasefire ended and ELN guerrillas launched attacks on state security forces.
Pablo Beltran, the ELN's chief peace negotiator, called for the resumption of peace talks on Tuesday, saying the group is open "to a new and better bilateral ceasefire.” Beltran’s statement was made a day after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos declared the suspension of peace talks after three bomb attacks on police stations across Colombia killed seven officers and wounded dozens.
"My patience and that of the Colombian people have their limits," Santos said while instructing state security officials to "maintain force against armed groups operating outside the law." Santos’ declarations made clear that the government would not attend the meeting between with the ELN scheduled for Wednesday in Quito, Ecuador.
The ELN has contested the government’s attempts to blame the group for an escalation in violence, saying they “fulfilled the 101 days of ceasefire in spite of the military offensive launched by the government towards the end of October, when they attacked our camps in el Choco and Norte de Santander.”
While the Colombian government insists on an unilateral ceasefire, the Revolutionary Alternative Force of the Commons and human rights organizations have stressed the “urgency” of saving the peace process and demanded an “immediate bilateral ceasefire.”
Peace talks between the ELN and the Colombian government are running out out time as presidential elections are scheduled for May and no front runner has shown support for continuing the peace talks.