The National Liberation Army peace negotiators will return to their military camps in Colombia.
The National Liberation Army (ELN) Chief Peace Negotiator Israel Ramirez said, Friday, that the 10 members of the negotiating team will not ask for political asylum in Cuba but will return to their camps in Colombia.
Asylum “is forbidden in the ELN," Ramirez said and added that "if we suffer political persecution for our revolutionary ideas, we go to the mountains. That's the best thing to do."
The leader clarified that "if one wants Colombia to change, one cannot leave the country," which is why insurgents will try to "create the conditions to return to their camps," as the ELN regulations state.
Ramirez's statements come after Colombia’s President Ivan Duque announced, on Jan. 18, the reactivation of the arrest warrants against ELN negotiators who are in Cuba. This decision was a reaction to an insurgent attack at the Santander General Police Cadet School, which left some 20 people dead and about 68 others injured.
Colombia's peace talks with the ELN were initiated by the former President Juan Manuel Santos in Feb. 2017, in Quito. In May 2018, the negotiation process moved to Havana, where the last round of talks ended on Aug. 3, 2018.
Upon taking office on Aug. 7, Duque announced that he would review whether to continue with the peace negotiations, which has since been suspended.
The Government of Cuba asked the ELN negotiators to respect the previously established protocol for their return to Colombia. If the peace dialogues are broken, the protocol states, guarantor countries and negotiating parties will have 15 days to plan and carry out the return of the ELN delegation to Colombia.
President Duque states that, regardless of an agreement with the previous Colombian Administration, such a protocol does not apply anymore due to the gravity of the Bogota bombing.
On the other hand, Ramirez said that "the delegation will do everything possible to keep the dialogue."