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  • Colombia's President Ivan Duque and Colombia's Vice President, Marta Lucia Ramirez, attend a news conference, in Bogota, Colombia Jan. 17, 2019.

    Colombia's President Ivan Duque and Colombia's Vice President, Marta Lucia Ramirez, attend a news conference, in Bogota, Colombia Jan. 17, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 January 2019

The far-right government of Duque has indicated that military confrontations and force, not dialogue, is the only way to end the conflict with the leftist guerrilla. 

The Colombian government announced the end of the peace process and dialogue with the National Liberation Army (ELN) after accusing the leftist group of being behind the bombing at the Santander General Police School, which left 21 dead and 68 wounded in Bogota.

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President Ivan Duque will give the official announcement after a meeting with the Security Council.

In a press conference Friday, Defense Minister Guillermo Botero declared that the attack with a vehicle full of explosives was allegedly committed by José Aldemar Rojas Rodríguez, 56, known as "El Mocho" or "Kiko".

"This is a guerrilla explosives expert who lost his right hand and who since 1994 served as a militant with ELN in Puerto Nuevo, in the department of Arauca, bordering Venezuela," Botero claimed.

For his part, the Attorney General of Colombia, Néstor Humberto Martínez, reiterated that "the material author of this terrorist act is a member of the National Liberation Army " and assured that the authorities have "documents that accredit it."

Likewise, Martínez indicated that the Prosecutor's Office will charge the members of the Central Command of the ELN for the attack.

He also explained that another man, named Ricardo Andrés Carvajal, was captured and who allegedly acknowledged being a co-author of the attack via telephone.

According to the Colombian authorities, the perpetrator of the attack, José Aldemar Rojas is a recognized ELN member. However, Rojas has no criminal record and there was no arrest warrant in effect against him.

Previously, local media had circulated false information about alleged statements by the ELN leader Pablo Beltrán about the attack on the police school, which were later denied by the insurgent group.

Meanwhile, former peace negotiator of the Colombian government with the ELN, Juan Camilo Restrepo, said in an interview with BluRadio Friday "I do not remember that the name of José Aldemar Rojas circulated in the Quito table while I was there," referring to the peace talks that took place in Ecuador before moving such talks to Cuba. .

The news of ending the peace process with the ELN prompted many to take to social media and demand that President Ivan Duque not give up on the agreements for the cessation of violence with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, and to insist on maintaining the dialogue table the leftist guerrilla group.

Also, critics are pointing to the fact that the Colombian state and its successive governments have been denounced for repeatedly using false positives and untrue statements in favor of purely political interests.

On January 16, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned the Colombian State for violations of the right to life, personal integrity, and personal liberty. The accusation stemmed from the death of six young people, under the modality of false positives, in the Colombian departments of Arauca, Santander and Casanare.

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In the 84-page ruling, the international body found "violations of guarantees and judicial protections for actions contrary to guarantees to the natural judge, reasonable time and due diligence, mainly caused by the flaws and obstacles of investigations in the framework of the military criminal jurisdiction."

"Although the Court has known other cases of extrajudicial executions in Colombia, it is the first ruling of an international tribunal in which a pattern of commission of false positives is recognized," said a statement from the defendants’ lawyer José Alvear Restrepo.

Also earlier this month the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned the attempts against the life of Alfamir Castillo, the mother of Darbey Mosquera Castillo, who was killed in 2008, as part of the “false positives” extrajudicial killings which rocked Colombia during President Alvaro Uribe’s administration.

In context, at least 1,750 members of Colombia's army were involved in creating "false positives," the name given to the practice of killing civilians and disguising them as combatants. According to Colombia's Office of the Attorney General, this phenomenon claimed the lives of at least 2,248 persons between 1988 and 2014.

The Colombian government provided an incentive for these extrajudicial killings by issuing a secret order, called "Directive 29," that offered a financial reward to those who killed guerrillas or paramilitaries.

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