The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, called for consultations with the government delegation negotiating with the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN), after the attack this Wednesday against an Army unit in the Catatumbo region. He left nine soldiers dead and nine wounded.
“I have summoned the government delegation to the ELN table, guarantor and accompanying countries for consultation. A peace process must be serious and responsible with Colombian society,” the president announced in a message from Twitter.
I have summoned the government delegation to the ELN table, guarantor and accompanying countries for consultation. A peace process must be serious and responsible with Colombian society.
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) March 29, 2023
This call “does not imply a freezing of the dialogues”, explained the Presidency, nor that the Government is going to “leave the table”, but it does imply a meeting for next Monday “with negotiators and guarantor countries to evaluate decisions regarding the facts recent”.
The attack, according to the Army, was perpetrated by the ELN in Guamalito, a corregimiento of the municipality of El Carmen, in the department of Norte de Santander, against soldiers of the Special Energy and Road Battalion No. 10.
In the attack with explosives and rifle shots, two non-commissioned officers and seven “soldiers doing their military service” died, according to information provided by Petro, and nine other soldiers were injured.
The president had already blamed the attack on “those who today are absolutely far from peace and the people,” without referring to the ELN but anticipating that the attack could have consequences at the dialogue table.
For his part, the Minister of Defense, Iván Velásquez, explained in statements to the press that they will be “conversations to examine this, which is a really very serious event” and that they will be “in the concrete examination of the situation in accordance with the analyzes that do the president”.
Earlier in an act this morning, the minister said that the attack is an act that “contributes very little to peace, which seems more like a contraction with those peace purposes.”
“In such a complicated situation of this aspiration for peace in the midst of the war, the feeling of repudiation for these murders, of condolences to the families, tribute to these soldiers who gave their lives for everyone,” said Velásquez.
In Catatumbo, which covers a dozen municipalities in Norte de Santander and is one of the regions with the most coca crops in Colombia, the 33rd front of the FARC dissidents also operates, a stronghold of the Popular Liberation Army (EPL). and criminal gangs.
Third cycle of the peace dialogue between Colombia and ELN will be in Cuba
During today’s attack, the platoon “was reviewing security operations at a strategic asset of the nation such as the Caño Limón-Coveñas oil pipeline,” the commander of the Military Forces, General Helder Fernan Giraldo, explained in statements to the press. Pretty.
According to a recently published record, the ELN has carried out at least eight attacks so far this year against this pipeline, which is managed by the state company Ecopetrol and is one of the most important for the country.
no cease fire
The ELN has already perpetrated other attacks against public forces in Catatumbo and Arauca since it returned to talks with the Government in November – an itinerant table that has already passed through Caracas, Mexico and is expected to settle in Havana after Week Santa, if there are no changes after what happened-, but this is the most lethal since then.
During the talks, a ceasefire was not agreed, one of the points that attracted the most attention in the round of Mexico and of which there is not much more than an “architecture” to achieve “a national bilateral ceasefire with the possibility of extension », as detailed by the High Commissioner for Peace, Danilo Rueda.
Precisely, the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace (OACP) assured today that “peace is built with facts, whether or not there is a ceasefire.”
Neither with attacks with explosives against soldiers nor with the blowing up of oil pipelines perpetrated by the ELN, will we advance towards peace. On the contrary, we will plunge further into the precipice of violence. My total condemnation of these events and my condolences to the relatives of the soldiers.
— Iván Cepeda Castro (@IvanCepedaCast) March 29, 2023
“The continuity of the violence benefits the interests of the conflict. The ELN is not listening to the people: communities throughout Colombia want peace with social justice and that the brothers stop seeing each other as enemies,” he added.
In a thread of messages on Twitter, the OACP urged “not to lose hope and the ELN to show concrete facts of peace,” despite saying that “the pain of families and environmental damage bring us closer to hell.”