Colombia: ELN ends COVID-19 ceasefire

Despite calls for an extension, Colombia’s ELN guerillas announced an end to their unilateral ceasefire on April 30, saying that continued government offensives demonstrate that President Ivan Duque is not interested in peace or in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was met with disappointment by civil society groups and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who in March had called for a “global ceasefire” in response to the pandemic. The UN chief’s spokesperson said the month-long ceasefire “was having a positive effect” and that its extension “would have brought hope and a message of peace to communities affected by the conflict.”

But the ELN said in its statement that┬á“the Duque government had not responded in a reciprocal manner or listened to the proposals we made to advance the search for peace. On the contrary, we saw a government interested in taking advantage of the unilateral cessation, maintaining joint operations with the paramilitaries, to gain greater territorial control and continue┬áwith its plan to assassinate social leaders.”┬á(Colombia Reports)

Just days earlier, some 70 families were displaced in the rural zone of Urrao, Antioquia department, when the village of Santa Mar├şa was occupied by at least 200 armed men from the Gaitanista Self-defense Forces of┬áColombia (AGC).┬á(La FM)

In an interview with Caracol Radio┬áon May 1, the ELN’s former peace negotiator Pablo Beltr├ín,┬áa member of the guerilla group’s Central Command, said that despite the end of the ceasefire,┬áthe group “will not have attack plans, but defense plans.”┬áBeltr├ín called on the United Nations and Pope Francis to lobby┬áthe Colombian government for a┬ábilateral ceasefire. “We are willing to agree on a bilateral cessation with the government, however difficult it may be; we will not abandon the path of a political solution,” he said.┬á(Colombia Reports)

Photo: Colombia Reports

  1. ELN leader reported killed

    Colombia’s┬áPresident Ivan Duque said Oct. 24 that the military has killed “Uriel,”┬áone of the ELN’s most media-savvy leaders. In a press conference, the president said that the mid-level commander of the ELN’s Western War Front was killed by special forces in an operation dubbed “Odin.” Duque, Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, the military command and Prosecutor General Francisco Barbosa all traveled to Quibdo, the capital of Choc├│┬ádepartment, for the announcement.┬áUriel was reportedly killed in Novita, a jungle municipality in the south of Choc├│. (Colombia Reports)