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News > Latin America

ELN Questions Colombian Govt Will for Peace After Killing Wave

  • The ELN wants the most marginalized to participate in the peace process.

    The ELN wants the most marginalized to participate in the peace process. | Photo: AFP

Published 23 January 2017

The recent wave of killings of campesino leaders and environment activists has cast a shadow over the peace deal.

The National Liberation Army said it doubts the Colombian government really wants to sign a peace deal in a statement Monday, about two weeks before the official phase of the peace negotiations are expected to take place in Ecuador.

Exclusive: ELN Leader Talks Fidel, Peace and Colombian Politics

“We have serious doubts that despite a conciliatory language on the table, in daily life, the political persecution of the left and anyone who thinks differently keeps increasing, while deaths keep mounting,” said Pablo Beltran, chief negotiator for the rebels to local media.

He suggested the government was also responsible for the surge of homicides of activists in recent months, and not only paramilitary groups as the government claimed.

“What we are wondering, with our comrades, is if they are inviting us to a legal political fight and to remove violence from politics, because this is not reflected in reality,” he added.

The guerrilla's supreme leader, Nicolas Rodriguez, or Gabino, said earlier in the day that he was also concerned over popular participation during and the speed of the peace talks.

He argued that giving peace time risked “obstructing it” while all parts should do their best to include the participation of the “marginalized majorities.”

Founded in 1964 and inspired by the Cuban Revolution and its iconic leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, is smaller and less well-known than the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which consolidated in a different part of the country also in 1964.

Colombia: The Just Cause for Peace and Unity

FARC leaders and many analysts have insisted that Colombia will only be capable of building stable and lasting peace if an end-of-conflict deal is also reached with the ELN.

The ELN has commended the government and the FARC on the historic peace deal, celebrating it as an important step toward peace, but also stressing that a peace process with its own ranks will be marked by key "sovereign" differences.

In particular, ELN leaders have stressed the importance of the democratic participation of the Colombian people, especially marginalized groups. Like the FARC, the ELN has attempted peace talks with past governments to no avail.

The talks will cover six major points, already agreed to in preliminary negotiations, which are: the participation of civil society in the peacebuilding process; democracy for peace; transformation for peace, victims; ending the conflict; and implementation of the agreements. The roadmap overlaps considerably with the cornerstones of the agreement between the government and the FARC-EP, highlighting the root causes of inequality underlying the conflict.

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