Colombia's Office of the Attorney General has confirmed it would lift all arrest warrants on National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, following President Gustavo Petro's instructions.
The head of state said this measure was aimed at creating better conditions for the ongoing peace negotiations in Havana.
Among those benefitting from these actions is Israel Ramírez Pineda, alias Pablo Beltrán, the head of the ELN delegation in Cuba, who also participated in talks with then-President Juan Manuel Santos in 2018.
Also on the list are Víctor Orlando Cubides, alias Aureliano Carbonell; Luz Amanda Pallares, alias 'Silvana Guerrero'; Juan De Dios Lisarazo, alias Alirio Sepúlveda; and Manuel Gustavo Martínez, alias Pablo Tejada, among others.
The arrest warrants against them were activated in January 2019, after the ELN claimed responsibility for the attack on a police cadet school in Bogota, which left some 20 people dead and nearly 70 others wounded. At that point, the administration of then-President Iván Duque froze all talks.
Since Petro's victory in the June 2022 elections, the ELN brass has expressed interest in resuming the peace discussions that began in February 2017 in Quito. Meetings have been held this month in Havana, albeit with little to no progress for the time being.
Petro said Monday that by suspending the arrest and extradition warrants he sought to build the road, hopefully quickly and expeditiously, where this organization ceases to be an insurgent guerrilla in Colombia.
A delegation headed by Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva was sent to Havana earlier this month for exploratory talks to set the rules of the game for a future negotiating table.
Colombia's Attorney General's Office said in 2016 that the ELN was accountable for 15,896 war crimes and crimes against humanity.
According to CNN citing Insight Crime, the leader of the ELN is Eliécer Herlinto Chamorro, alias Antonio García, who has been in charge since June of 2021, when Nicolas Rodríguez Bautista, alias Gabino, stepped down from a position he had held since the 1970s.
Antonio Garcia was born in January 1956 in Mocoa, Putumayo, in southwestern Colombia. He joined the guerrilla group in 1975 and quickly moved up the organization's ranks. He has an Interpol red notice for kidnapping, aggravated homicide, and aggravated robbery.
The ELN has a Central Command made up of five members: one of them is the military commander, who also serves as the leader of the entire organization, and the rest handle political affairs, international affairs, financial operations, and communications between the Central Command and the War Fronts into which the guerrillas are organized.
Pablo Beltrán was the head of the ELN delegation for the peace talks with the Santos government in 2016 in Quito, Ecuador. He has been a leading ELN negotiator since then. He is wanted for homicide, personal injuries, and terrorism.
Víctor Orlando Cubides, also known as Aureliano Carbonell or Pablo Tejada, is considered one of the intellectuals of this guerrilla group and is also a member of the ELN dialogue committee. He is wanted by Interpol for the terrorist attack against the police academy in 2019.
In an interview with Verdad Abierta in 2020, Carbonell said that confrontation with other criminal groups in the Norte de Santander department is part of his insurgent project, and denied that the ELN had links to drug trafficking. ”The ELN has no relationship with drug trafficking... It does not have laboratories, it does not process (cocaine), the guerrilla leader said in August 2020. The ELN is also not involved in commercialization, in general... It is not involved in that.”