Attacks continue in countdown to ELN ceasefire

Guerilla commander Nicolás Rodríguez AKA "Gabino" has issued orders to his National Liberation Army (ELN) fighters to honor the bilateral ceasefire that is to take effect on Oct. 1. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said he hoped the ceasefire would lead to the ELN laying down arms, as happened with the FARC. But these statements came just days after yet another rupture on the Caño Limón-Coveñas oil pipeline, which government negotiator Juan Camilo Restrepo blamed on the ELN. "The ELN's actions in recent days are truly insensitive and unexplainable and, of course, reprehensible because we are facing an ecological crime of enormous magnitudes," Restrepo told Caracol Radio. The rupture, at Teorama, Norte de Santander, spilled oil into La Cristalina and La Tiradera canyons, which drain into the Río Catatumbo. (Reuters, Sept. 29, EFERTTNews, Sept. 28; Semana, Sept. 27)

And days before that, the ELN issued a statement disputing government claims that the ceasefire is to end Jan. 12, asserting that under the Quito Accord that date had been set as Jan. 9. (El Espectador, Sept. 23)

Colombia’s hard-right opposition meanwhile announced it will try to end an ongoing peace process with FARC (and presumably ELN) by calling a national referendum. The (deceptively named) Democratic Center of former president Alvaro Uribe is collecting signatures for a national referendum to repeal the law establishing a Special Jurisdiction for Peace other aspects of the agreement between the FARC and government. (Colombia Reports, Sept. 29)