Christmas truce announced by Columbia's ELN rebel group
The ELN will has announced a military truce, from Christmas Eve until January 2nd.
Colombia's last recognized rebel group, the ELN, declared a "unilateral ceasefire" for the Christmas and New Year's holiday season on Monday.
The National Liberation Army (ELN), which is negotiating a peace deal with Colombia's new leftist administration, said in a social media video that the truce will extend from Christmas Eve until January 2.
It would apply "only to the military and police forces," said a masked ELN member, who added, "we deserve the right to defend ourselves in case of being attacked."
Just last week, the ELN launched an armed attack, trapping some 10,000 residents in Colombia's northwest Choco jungle region.
The ELN said the attack, which was condemned by both the government and the opposition, was in reprisal for the killing of one of its own at the hands of "paramilitaries" apparently working in "collusion" with government forces. Colombia has undergone more than half a century of violent warfare between the state and various groups of left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers.
The ELN is the only recognized rebel group that remained operational in Colombia, however, a few dissidents who refused to sign the 2016 peace deal between the FARC guerrilla group and the government continued to remain active.
Petro, the ELN, and lasting peace in Colombia
In August, Colombia's President Gustavo Petro, announced that he suspended arrest warrants and extradition requests for ELN members, a Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group that has been involved in the liberation of Colombia from US imperialism since 1964, when it was founded by priests adhering to Liberation Theology.
Petro's efforts came as a step to reignite peace negotiations aiming at ending a 60-year-old conflict in the country.
This move is an integral part of the Colombian President's campaign, as he pledged to bring "total peace" to Colombia. Petro assumed office on August 7 and was a member of the M-19 insurgency.
"I have authorized the reinstatement of the protocols, allowing negotiators to again reconnect with their organization, suspending arrest warrants for those negotiators, suspending extradition orders for those negotiators in order to start a dialogue with the National Liberation Army," Petro said. "This resolution initiates a new possibility of a peace process in Colombia."
Representatives of the ELN have remained in Cuba since 2019. It is worth noting that Colombia, like the US and Canada, designateD the ELN as a terrorist organization.
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