Leader of Colombian guerrilla group the National Liberation Army (ELN), Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista “Gabino” and the country’s government are 90 percent close to starting peace talks, Prensa Latina reported.
“I’ve said it publicly, as a means of telling the country and the world, we have completed 85 percent of the agenda planned with the government. There is a bit left to discuss, and when this is completed we will commence the public phase of talks.” Bautista commented.
“It was due to the situation with Venezuela that Santos contacted us in the first instance. The first contact was made about two years ago. It’s been very difficult, as Santos himself mentioned.” he added.
The ELN have currently been prevalent in Colombian and global press for their numerous attacks on power and oil and gas infrastructure, the burning of five vehicles on the Medellín-Quibdó highway and the kidnapping and subsequent release of an engineer in the Chocó department.
But will the group reach the negotiating table, following in the footsteps of fellow insurgent group the FARC?
The ELN could begin talks in January next year, with Quito as the group’s destination of choice.
The group began talks about two weeks ago, including acceptance of a cease-fire during the preliminary phase.
The group appear open to talks, which has been met with a positive response by government ministers.
“A valiant effort has been made with the ELN, and without a shadow of a doubt, an agreement needs to be reached with the guerrilla to ensure that long lasting peace is reached.” Senator Iván Cepeda from the country’s center-left Polo Democrático party commented.
For now, the primary phase of talks needs to be completed.