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News > Colombia

Colombians Call on Duque's Gov't to Maintain Peace Process With ELN

  • Police and security personnel work at the scene where a car bomb exploded, according to authorities, in Bogota, Colombia Jan. 17, 2019.

    Police and security personnel work at the scene where a car bomb exploded, according to authorities, in Bogota, Colombia Jan. 17, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 January 2019

The renewed uncertainty over the peace process between the Colombian government and the leftist ELN group comes after Thursday's car bomb attack on a police school that left 21 dead.

After the attack in Bogota that left 21 dead and 68 wounded, hundreds of Colombians are demanding that President Iván Duque not give up on the agreements for the cessation of violence with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, and insist on maintaining the dialogue table the leftist guerrilla group.

Toll from Colombia Car Bomb Rises to 21: Police

Through Twitter, they used the hashtag #AdelantePorLaPaz (forward with peace) in which they expressed their desire for the end of the armed conflict in the South American country as well as lamenting the loss of lives in the attack.

"#AdelantePorLaPaz It is the only way to make Colombia a country where young people: cadets, peasants and students are not killed and silenced in the context of a conflict that the only thing that generates us is death and rupture of the social fabric," one user said in a tweet

"The government @IvanDuque believes that dialogue with the ELN, will not achieve peace, and instead wants to defeat it militarily. That was done 16 years ago with the Farc, and Uribe in eight years could not. Let's not wait for more four years of violence and death," another Colombian said through the social media website. 

The call for maintaining the peace process came shortly after the government of Ivan Duque officially accused the ELN of ordering the attack. The leftist group has yet to issue an official statement on the accusations, however, the group did issue a tweet from its official Twitter account rejecting reports of its responsibility yesterday on media outlets and by officials following the bombing.

The Colombian government and the ELN had initiated peace talks in February 2017 under a mandate by former President Juan Manuel Santos.

Those talks are currently in an evaluation phase. In a move that pushes peace talks further away, on Nov. 21 the Colombian government announced they won’t suspend the Interpol arrest order against Nicolas Rodriguez, known as Gabino, who was designated as the ELN's chief peace negotiator.

The county’s prolonged armed conflict has been ongoing since the 1960s. Between October 2017 and January 2018, the Colombian government and the ELN agreed on a bilateral ceasefire that lasted 101 days.

Since then, the militant organization ordered unilateral truces, in what they claimed was in an effort to prevent any impediment of the voting process during last year's elections.

Funded and sponsored by Catholic priests and rebels, ELN is currently the largest active guerrilla group in Colombia after the peace agreement and demoralization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

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