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Published On: Fri, Feb 9th, 2018

Colombia’s labor and minority group leaders join church in effort aimed to resume ceasefire between State and ELN

nsnbc : Leaders from Colombia’s labor unions and minority groups said Thursday this week they have joined the Catholic Church in actively mediating an end to violence between the State and the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN).



The ELN and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos are still deadlocked over the resumption of a renewed bilateral ceasefire and peace talks. Civilian noncombatants including minority leaders and social leaders and activists have traditionally been targets for the more than 52-year-long civil war between the State and right-wing paramilitaries on one hand, and the ELN on the other. On Wednesday a 16-year-old girl died of the injuries she sustained when she was hit by a bomb meant for ELN guerrillas last week.

Also last week a Catholic Church commission met with the ELN and announced the Church’ mediation in an attempt to break the deadlock that has spurred renewed combat and hostilities. The ELN is ideologically anchored in a blend of Marxism, Anarchio-Syndicalism (not to be confused with the popularized misuse of the word Anarchy), and Liberation Theology. Luis Emil Sanabria of the Redpaz peace organization told RCN Radio that some 50 social leaders will travel to the Ecuadorian capital Quito to meet with ELN negotiators. Sanabria said “We want to support the parties so that trust is restored and humanitarian relief reaches the communities”.

Colombians of all colors and from the entire political spectrum find it hardly surprising that the renewed wave of violence in the country coincides with the 2018 election campaign in which the FARC (party) constituted from the disarmed and demobilized FARC-EP guerrilla participates.

ELN guerrilla (archives)

ELN guerrilla (archives)

Moreover, all conservative political leaders have called for an end to talks with the ELN after a bomb attack on a police station in Barranquilla. Colombia’s Liberals, Social Democrats, and Socialists have warned for an escalation of armed conflict while the FARC as well as the UN stress that former FARC guerrilla who are campaigning need more and better protection against political assassinations and other politically-motivated violence.

Two senior politicians, the socialist Ivan Cepeda and the conservative Alvaro Leyva, have also been talking to both parties in an effort to motivate them to resume talks. The United Nations, which monitored the ceasefire that expired on January 9, has urged the parties not to undo progress made in attempts to leave civilians out of the conflict. The ELN has been fighting the Colombian state since 1964. It is the last-standing major leftist guerrilla operating in Colombia.

AN & CH/L – nsnbc 09.02.2018

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