In Colombia, the government and the ELN announce an extension of the ceasefire

The government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN), a far-left guerrilla group, announced on Tuesday February 6 in Havana the extension for six months of the ceasefire in force since August

In Colombia, the government and the ELN announce an extension of the ceasefire

The government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN), a far-left guerrilla group, announced on Tuesday February 6 in Havana the extension for six months of the ceasefire in force since August. “We have agreed to extend from midnight on February 6, 2024 for one hundred and eighty days the bilateral, national and temporary ceasefire,” specifies a document broadcast, on X, by the two parties.

In this document, on which the signatures of the leaders of the two delegations appear, the ELN, the last active rebellion in Colombia, also undertakes to “suspend” the kidnappings. “The National Liberation Army, to contribute to the development of the bilateral, national and temporary ceasefire, unilaterally and temporarily suspends detentions of an economic nature,” it is written.

The kidnapping by the rebel group, at the end of October, of the father of Colombian footballer Luis Diaz, released twelve days later, had jeopardized the peace process begun at the end of 2022. In December, during the previous round of negotiations in Mexico, the ELN committed to suspending kidnappings “as part of the extension of the ceasefire” in Colombia.

“Crisis factors”

Earlier on Monday, the two sides postponed the conclusion of the sixth round of their talks that began on January 22 in Havana. Shortly before the ELN had announced, in a press release, that measures were “taken to resolve the crisis factors” in order to find an agreement for an extension of the ceasefire, signed in June in Havana and in force since on August 3.

This ceasefire, which expired on January 29, had already been extended by seven days last week to give negotiators additional time. The latter had expressed from the start of this new round of discussions their intention to reach an agreement to extend the truce.

The Colombian Defense Minister, Ivan Velasquez, even made the trip to Havana a little over a week ago to participate in the negotiations. The closing ceremony is now scheduled in the Cuban capital for Tuesday morning.

Gustavo Petro, the first left-wing president in the history of Colombia, opened discussions with the main armed groups operating in the country. With the ELN, but also dissidents from the Marxist FARC (which reject the historic 2016 peace agreement), paramilitary groups and drug traffickers.

This policy of “total peace” faces many obstacles and is severely criticized by the opposition, while some of these armed groups have increased their actions to increase their territorial influence.

In total, more than 90 illegal armed groups are currently active in Colombia: dissidents of the FARC, ELN, heirs of the far-right paramilitary groups of the 1990s and simple drug trafficking gangs, such as the formidable Clan del Golfo, according to the independent Colombian think tank Indepaz.