The ELN guerrilla, currently engaged in peace talks with the Colombian government, has released two individuals it had been holding captive in the southern part of the Chocó department. This release was made possible through mediation by the Office of the Ombudsman (Defensoría del Pueblo). The two citizens were handed over to a humanitarian mission.
The humanitarian mission consisted of representatives from the Office of the Ombudsman, the Catholic Church, and members of the United Nations Mission in Colombia.
5 Weeks in Captivity
Alexis Chocho Chamapuro and Eiler Andres Lizalda had been held by the ELN since August 2 when they were abducted in the town of Litoral de San Juan, Choco. “The handover, carried out by members of the Western War Front Omar Gomez to our mission members in Bajo San Juan, will allow us to continue advancing in the development of dialogues being conducted with the National Government, with the aim of achieving what is known as ‘Total Peace,'” stated Carlos Camargo, Colombia’s Ombudsman.
Meanwhile, ELN guerrillas stated in a communique that this action does not constitute a violation of the partial agreements signed with the government within the context of the ongoing peace dialogues. According to the armed group’s spokespersons, this is because the “captives are not social leaders, members of the indigenous guard, or civilian population outside of the internal armed conflict.”
According to the ELN, the two individuals handed over to the humanitarian mission are part of the Clan del Golfo, a paramilitary group also known as the Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. These groups emerged after the demobilization of paramilitary forces in 2006 during Álvaro Uribe’s presidency.
Call from the Ombudsman
“Our call to the ELN and all illegal armed structures is to release all individuals in their custody and to, under no circumstances, involve the civilian population in the development of the internal armed conflict,” said Carlos Camargo, who has served as the Ombudsman since September 2020 and will continue in this role until 2024.
According to the institution’s statement, the mission of the Office of the Ombudsman is to continue its work, using all available channels in any part of the country, to ensure that all individuals held in captivity regain their freedom.