Despite head of the insurgent group the National Liberation Army (ELN) Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista or ‘Gabino’ confirming that the guerrilla were in fact ready to begin “a peace process agenda which won’t even be missing a comma,” it would appear that talks could now be on hold.
Despite Gabino confirming that the group are prepared to begin formal peace negotiations with the Colombian Government – scheduled for the first few months of 2016 – it would appear that Nicolás Maduro’s current government has placed a spanner in the political works.
“Peace is very important for Colombia and the ELN is fully dedicated to (achieving) it. We are optimistic, without ignoring the difficulties,” he commented.
Although lesser known than the FARC, the ELN, and its 2,500 members, has been active since 1964 in Colombia, promoting a communist regime to combat the corruption, poverty and political exclusion under the country’s ruling government.
Despite Maduro losing by a majority vote during the December 6 elections, Venezuelan government has voiced that a ELN nucleus still remains on the country’s soil – freezing negotiations.
Although Quito, Ecuador, was the planned setting for the negotiations to begin early next year, news from Caracas has placed plans on hold.
“Although Ecuador has acted as a friend and alternative seat for these meetings, Venezuela is fundamental in terms of logistics and movements made by the ELN,” a Government source added.
Meanwhile in Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos was quick to tweet news of the capture of eight ELN members in the department of Cauca:
Felicitaciones @PoliciaColombia por operativo en Cauca contra estructura de Frente Manuel Vásquez Castaño del ELN. Capturados sus 8 jefes.
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) December 25, 2015
Colombian media has reacted to the freezing of talks with a number of hypotheses.
The first, that Caracas is trying to retain some political power over its neighbor.
Could it be that Venezuela fears it will be losing influence across the Latin American region?
Or could this also have something to do with the fact that the threat of mass protests in support of Chavism could threaten the country’s new political landscape?
Yet, these stalling techniques could be nothing to worry about – as previous attempts to freeze the ongoing talks with the FARC in Havana were swiftly resolved.
Maduro’s government, it seems, won’t be going without a fight.