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Montevideo, May 31st 2023 - 02:45 UTC



Colombia: ELN guerrillas announce Christmas truce

Monday, December 19th 2022 - 20:35 UTC
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The ELN is known not to have fully observed previous ceasefires. Hence, instead of optimistic analysts are rather cautious The ELN is known not to have fully observed previous ceasefires. Hence, instead of optimistic analysts are rather cautious

Colombian guerrilla fighters of the National Liberation Army Monday announced a unilateral Christmas truce from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2, although the measure would only cover the State Military and Police Forces. The ELN also warned they will defend themselves in case of being attacked.

Since Gustavo Petro took office as the first-ever leftwing President of Colombia, the ELN has agreed to hold peace talks with the government. Preliminary meetings have been held in Caracas.

“The National Liberation Army remains committed to continuing contributing to create an atmosphere of peace in these Christmas and New Year's holidays, therefore, it decrees a unilateral ceasefire,” the ELN announced in a statement.

This ceasefire, which the guerrillas have decreed for the Christmas period during other peace processes, will be in effect from 6:00 am on December 24, 2022, until 6:00 am on January 2, 2023, according to the statement.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the ELN has an open conflict with the paramilitary Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC) or Clan del Golfo, especially in the Pacific region, where last week the guerrillas even declared an “armed strike” in the San Juan region due to the interference of this group in a territory they claim to control.

“True peace requires more than words”, assured ELN's “Claudia Isabel M” in a video in which she reads the communiqué. The guerrilla leader appears escorted by six other armed members of the ELN and wearing the distinctive red and black scarves of the group. She also asked the government to attack the paramilitary groups.

In Arauca, on the Venezuelan border, the ELN has clashed with dissident FARC groups in a conflict that has claimed over 300 lives. The ELN has already decreed previous ceasefires, such as the one from Oct. 1, 2017 to Jan. 2018. And on Jan. 17, 2019, they attacked the General Santander Police Academy in southern Bogota, killing over 20 people, which led then-President Iván Duque to finish all peace negotiations.

This time around, the first round of talks on Dec. 12 in the Venezuelan capital ended with a joint declaration that avoided talking about ceasefires but estimated that “humanitarian relief” would be provided by the guerrillas starting in January in Valle del Cauca and Chocó and the government agreed to give “emergency” response to “a group of ELN political prisoners”. The next round of negotiations will take place at the end of January in Mexico.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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