The National Liberation Army (ELN) announced on Wednesday night (28) the release of 26 hostages. The measure is part of the agreement signed between the group and the Colombian government during the last cycle of the peace dialogue, held in Havana, Cuba.

According to the government delegation, the list of 26 names was handed over to the Colombian armed group during the 5th cycle of peace dialogues held in Mexico in 2023. Those kidnapped were identified by the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, a technical body established by the table for carry out a survey of kidnapped Colombians.

The announcement was made after a crisis in talks between the Colombian government and the ELN, after the guerrillas accused the Colombian military and paramilitaries of violating the ceasefire.

In an interview with Efe Agency, peace negotiator Vera Grabe said that the ELN “complyed with the agreements” and that this was one of the conditions for extending the bilateral ceasefire. The ceasefire between the government and ELN was extended until August after the Cuban negotiation cycle.

Still according to Grabe, a suspension of kidnappings is not enough. According to her, it would be necessary to end the practice called “retentions for economic purposes”. According to the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, the last hostages were released last week.

The armed group’s delegation said it will resume dialogues with the government from April 8. Negotiations with the Colombian government have been frozen since February 20th. The group stated that the process was in an “open crisis” and even called its delegation for consultations.

In a statement, the ELN stated that it will continue with what was agreed in the last cycle of debates in Cuba and that it will prepare for the next cycle of debates that is scheduled to take place in Venezuela. Even so, the delegation maintained the call for internal consultations within the group.

The pause in dialogues began when the ELN reported violations of the agreements by the government. The front of the armed group operating in the state of Chocó, in the western region of Colombia, interrupted the ceasefire signed between the group and the government in Cuba for 5 days. The measure was taken by the Omar Gómez Western War Front and was justified by an alleged agreement between military and paramilitary forces in the region which, according to the ELN, prevents the “circulation of people and food”, in addition to using the local population as a “human shield “.

The ELN was created in 1964 under the inspiration of the Cuban Revolution and Liberation Theology. It has a presence in two hundred municipalities, with around 2,300 guerrillas, with a greater concentration in the departments of Arauca, Cauca, Chocó, Nariño, Catatumbo and Antioquia, according to the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (Pares).

Editing: Lucas Estanislau


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