The ELN, which resumed peace talks with the Colombian government eight months ago, is preparing its militants for the agreed ceasefire with the government, which will begin on July 6th.
According to the agreement reached at the end of the third cycle of talks held in Havana, the oldest and still active guerrilla group in the country is preparing to initiate the ceasefire. It was a commitment agreed upon in Cuba with the delegates of the Colombian government and is expected to extend until August 3rd, with the willingness to extend it beyond this date.
This cessation of operations signifies a halt to military and intelligence activities, and only defensive actions will be maintained in the event of an attack.
Continued communication with the government
To ensure compliance with the agreement and to address concerns and misunderstandings, as stipulated in Article 11 governing these negotiations, a direct communication channel, a “red phone,” has been established to connect ELN delegates with the government. The idea is to “report any developments that may arise during the ceasefire” in order to channel them and ensure compliance.
Armed strike in Chocó
Just a couple of days ago, an audio circulated on social media in which a supposed leader of the ELN’s Western War Front, alias Gerson, announced an armed strike for the department of Chocó starting today and indefinitely. In the past, armed strikes have resulted in strike days with intimidation of the civilian population. This combination of agitation and propaganda would constitute a violation of the agreed ceasefire.
According to the voice in the audio, the population is urged “starting from 0:00 hours on July 4th, 2023, throughout the San Juan, Sipí, and Cajón regions and all their tributaries (…), to refrain from circulating in the territory while the order is in effect.”
The justification provided by the ELN refers to a supposed incursion by the Clan del Golfo in the Chambacú village, municipality of Sipí, where a local peasant was reportedly victimized, resulting in his nine-year-old son being injured.
Negotiations until the last minute
A small delegation from the Colombian government is still discussing the details of this ceasefire with the ELN delegation in Havana today, just 48 hours before its initiation. The political scientist and former M19 guerrilla, Otty Patiño, leads the government delegation in these negotiations. The government’s representation includes Admiral Orlando Romero, Juan Carlos Ospina, and Horacio Guerrero. Representing the ELN, Bernardo Téllez, Gustavo Martínez, Tomás García Laviana, and the head of the guerrilla delegation, Pablo Beltrán.
The Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, composed of the ELN, the government, the United Nations, and the Catholic Church, will be the body responsible for ensuring real and effective compliance with this ceasefire.