Conflict between the ELN and the Government Intensifies as ELN Announces Armed Strike

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Source: Colombia Informa / The Dawn News / February 7, 2018

Photo Credit: Colombia Informa

In the midst of the crisis of the Peace Negotiations between the Colombian Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the latter has announced an Armed Strike from February 10 to 13.

The Peace Negotiation between the ELN and the Colombian government is stagnated since early January despite repeated calls by the ELN to resume peace negotiations. And now that the National Temporary Bilateral Ceasefire has ended, the conflict is intensifying.

The attack on the Barranquilla Police Station by the guerrilla’s Urban War Front and the bombarding by military forces of an ELN camp in Chocó, are the two most prominent events in this escalation.

However, there are more actions and operations being carried out by both parts in different regions of the country.

A multitude of politicians, social organizations, intellectuals and citizens from different regions of the country (especially in those most affected by the conflict) have demanded to both sides that they not stop the peace talks, that they end the war against civil population and that they move towards a political solution to the armed conflict. The Colombian people want to overcome this decade-long conflict.

President Juan Manuel Santos has indefinitely suspended the beginning of the Fifth Cycle of Talks for peace, effectively stopping the entire negotiation. On the other hand, the ELN has demanded that the government continue with the peace process, and advance with the agenda to establish a new bilateral ceasefire.

A few hours ago, the Western War Front of the ELN (which operates in the Colombian Pacific Coast) announced an Armed Strike throughout the country, to protest against the government’s refusal to continue with the peace negotiations.

The communiqué also denounces that in January 27 social leaders were murdered in 11 departments of Colombia, military operations have increased and the persecution and judicialization of social leaders has intensified.

The ELN has called “drivers and passengers to abstain from travelling in order to avoid inconveniences”. The strike will be enforced on roads, rivers, sea and air routes.

Multiple social, political and religious figures have tried to intercede to reactivate peace negotiations, but it seems as though Santos’ government will freeze them until the electoral period is over.

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