BOGOTA ( Associated Press) – The National Liberation Army published a statement Monday strongly criticizing a recent speech by President Gustavo Petro in which he accused the guerrillas of having ties to drug trafficking.
Within the framework of the commemoration of a new anniversary of the military forces, Petro assured “we are negotiating the ELN, but this does not mean that the guard has been lowered against its illegal economy. You have to destroy it. Will happen.”
In an eight-page letter, the ELN warned that President Petro was being “disrespectful” to the ELN and “ignoring” dialogue by government delegations, guarantor countries and allies—such as the Catholic Church and the United Nations— have been out by both sides. In turn, he said that the organization “practiced hierarchical demarcation” of drug trafficking.
Over the weekend, Petro proposed to the ELN a bilateral ceasefire in the Nariño Department in the south of the country and on the border with Ecuador, which would be a bilateral ceasefire in the entire national territory.
This new conflict between the ELN and the Petro government came after a disagreement when the executive declared a ceasefire with the guerrillas, which had not been previously agreed upon at the negotiating table.
The parties completed the third round of peace talks in Cuba. The negotiations are itinerant, meaning they do not have a fixed headquarters or a specific country.
Cuba was the site of several Colombian peace processes, including a successful agreement in 2016 that achieved the disarmament of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Furthermore, the first meeting between the authorities and the ELN was held on the island since its suspension from the negotiating table in 2019 when the administration of then-President Ivan Duque (2018–2022) canceled it in response to an ELN attack on a police school. .
Talks between the ELN and the Colombian government resumed last November after Petro, the first leftist president in the country’s history, was sworn in and who made “complete peace” a strong pillar of his political programme.
The ELN was founded in 1964 inspired by the Cuban Revolution and has tried six times to make peace with the state without success. It currently operates in more than 200 municipalities in Colombia and according to officials could have between 2,000 and 4,000 members.