The guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) order to “free all the hostages” they are holding. This decision, announced by Pablo Beltrán, head of the peace delegation of this illegal armed group, is a consequence of the decision to “temporarily” abandon the practice of kidnapping for economic purposes, as demanded by the government in order to continue the peace talks which have been dragging on for a little over a year.
Beltrán explained that his organization has also agreed to “an extension of the ceasefire, so in the protocols we are going to include this temporary suspension of economic kidnappings“.
Prompt release of hostages
The guerrilla leader said, in a dialogue with Caracol Radio, that “all the people who are under this denomination, there is the intention to proceed as quickly as possible so that they are released and that this does not take too long.”
Pablo Beltrán also explained in his conversation with the radio station that in this fifth round of dialogues with the State there have been moments of great tension, because of “the analyses on paramilitarism, because they are causing a lot of damage, but also other groups, for example residual FARC are producing damage”.
Beltran pointed out that the number of kidnapped people attributed to them by the media and state agencies is exaggerated, but that the ELN is going to fulfill its commitment to free the people it has deprived of liberty.
In this context, the guerrilla chief has qualified hostage information as “media bubbles”, in clear reference not only to the media, but essentially to the letter of the Ombudsman’s Office with a list of 91 hostages, which he claims he does not know, and some of which cases he referred to at the negotiation table.
“They attribute many things to us that are not our responsibility,” he insisted. “Not all the hostages they say the ELN has corresponds to reality, but those they do have will be released”, reiterated the historic guerrilla leader.
Ombudsman asks to go further
For his part, the Ombudsman, Carlos Camargo, has stated that he values “the agreement reached between the delegations of the national government and the ELN, related to the fact that this guerrilla group renounces the inhuman practice of kidnapping for economic purposes in the country”.
According to Camargo, “this decision, like the one announced a few days ago by the self-styled Central General Staff of the FARC, fills us with optimism and allows us to reiterate to the other illegal armed groups and organized crime organizations that they should also cease kidnapping”.
Through mediation, the Ombudsman’s Office has called for the release of “all persons held captive by the armed and criminal groups“. Camargo has demanded that in order to achieve peace, “deeds of peace” are required, referring also to the fact that the illegal groups in dialogue with the government are called upon to stop the recruitment of minors and to release “all the children and adolescents that they have in their ranks”.