Colombia: ELN to join peace talks?
Norma Enríquez, a leader of the Permanent Assembly of Civil Society for Peace, an umbrella of Colombian NGOs and popular organizations, on Feb. 10 called on the government to include the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the talks now underway in Havana with the FARC guerillas. Enríquez told the Mexican news agency Notimex that failure to include the ELN "would be to risk marginalizing one of the expressions of the conflict from the peace dialogue." Initial contacts between the government and the ELN, brokered by the Catholic Church, apparently broke down in November, when the guerilla group took hostage two German nationals in Santander department. (Notimex, Feb. 11; Sexenio, Mexico, Feb. 10)
Last August, Colombian authorities claimed to have arrested 12 members of a ring that trafficked cocaine through Venezuela with the collaboration of the ELN. Without giving greater details, the National Police said the ring's leader, Orlando Moreno Torres AKA "Doble Cero" (Double Zero), had "links" to the ELN. The arrests were made in Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cúcuta and three locations in Bolívar department, in a nationwide joint operation by the National Police Anti-Narcotics Directorate (DIRAN) and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). (Venezuela al Día, Aug. 14)