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ELN Ceasefire Brings Hope for Peace in Colombia

Photo: The Defense Post

The Latest Development Between the ELN and the Colombian Government

The Central Command of the National Liberation Army (ELN) announced Tuesday to stop its attacks before the ceasefire period. Since yesterday, the Colombian government has ordered a decree halting army offensive action. The ELN is Colombia’s last active guerilla group having around 5,800 combatants in 2022. A ceasefire was agreed upon between the ELN and the Colombian government for six months. In the past, negotiations have failed by the previous five Colombian administrations. Peace negotiations will resume on August 14 in Venezuela. 

  • What is the ELN? Why are they the last guerilla group in Colombia?

The ELN is a Marxist-Leninist group fighting with the Colombian government since 1964. Founded by Catholic priests, the ELN’s primary goal involves overthrowing the Colombian government and establishing a socialist state. The group has had immense involvement in drug trafficking and has carried out various violent acts such as bombings, kidnappings, and extortions. The only other major guerilla group, the FARC, demobilized via a peace agreement with the Colombian government in 2016. Since 2016, the ELN has grown because of FARC’s demobilization.

  • What does the ceasefire mean for the Colombian government?

For the Colombian government, the ceasefire is a step in the right direction for a negotiated settlement. If both sides can fulfill their part of the ceasefire, there will be higher trust amongst both sides to settle. Columbia’s government has had experience negotiating with FARC, a much bigger group than ELN. Considering this experience, the ELN might feel that a successful settlement may occur. 

Furthermore, what this ceasefire agreement does is alleviate US-Colombia tensions. The US had been pressuring the Columbian government to crack down on the ELN. Since the US considers the ELN a terrorist organization, it pressured the Colombian government to act against the group. This ceasefire demonstrates that there can still be peaceful approaches to this conflict. 

  • What does this ceasefire mean for the ELN? 

For the ELN, various benefits can arise from a successful ceasefire agreement. For one, there will be reduced military pressure from the government. In addition, the ELN will have greater political power in the negotiation process as they will consolidate power by not having to fight. Lastly, the ELN’s political legitimacy would increase as they would fulfill such an agreement for the first time in their history. All these benefits can help the ELN obtain a better deal than they would have if they remained fighting. 


The Main Takeaway from the Ceasefire Agreement

While it is still too early to determine what will arise from the ceasefire agreement between the Colombian government and the ELN, the negotiations are proceeding in the right direction. It will be fundamental to monitor what continues to occur between the two parties.


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