Colombia’s ELN Rebels Agree to Cease Kidnapping for Ransom

December 20, 2023 | by b1og.net


In a significant development for peace in Colombia, the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels have made a commitment to cease using kidnapping as a tactic to raise funds. This pledge comes on the condition that the current cease-fire between the rebels and the government is extended. Colombians, frustrated by the increasing number of kidnappings, have expressed their anger towards the ELN. Notably, the abduction of the father of soccer star Luis Díaz intensified public outcry. While it remains uncertain if the rebels will release 38 Colombians currently in captivity, this commitment signifies progress in the often criticized peace talks. The next challenge lies in discussions regarding the rebels’ involvement in illicit trade, a potential stumbling block for the cease-fire extension. As Colombians hope for lasting peace, this development brings a renewed sense of optimism.

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Colombia’s leftist National Liberation Army, known as the ELN, has been notorious for its use of kidnapping as a fund-raising tactic. The guerrillas have often held civilians captive, demanding ransom payments in exchange for their release. However, in a recent development, the ELN rebels have agreed to cease these kidnappings if the current cease-fire with the government is extended. This decision was made during talks between the government and the rebels in Mexico City.

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Rebels agree to stop kidnapping for ransom

At the round of talks in Mexico City, the ELN rebels made a pledge to stop using kidnapping as a means to raise funds. This comes as a significant relief to Colombians who have grown increasingly angry at the kidnappings carried out by the guerrillas. The anger reached its peak in October when the father of Colombian soccer star Luis Díaz was abducted by the rebels. He was held captive for 12 days before being released, while his mother was rescued by the police within hours. While this pledge marks a positive step forward, it remains uncertain whether the rebels will release the estimated 38 Colombians they currently hold captive.

Impact on peace talks

With the ELN rebels agreeing to halt their kidnappings, there is renewed hope for the progress of peace talks between the rebels and the government. The kidnapping scandal had cast a shadow over the negotiations, but now there is a breath of fresh air. Vera Grabe, the government’s head negotiator, expressed her optimism about the situation, stating that they have made firm progress towards peace with the ELN. This positive development could pave the way for more constructive discussions and ultimately contribute to a lasting resolution.

Luis Díaz’s involvement

The abduction of Luis Díaz’s father brought international attention to the issue of kidnappings in Colombia. Díaz himself is a talented soccer player who represents Colombia’s national team and currently plays for Liverpool in the English Premier League. The abduction of his parents shed light on the growing trend of kidnapping for ransom and extortion in the country. Despite efforts by the left-wing government to broker ceasefires with rebel groups, these criminal activities have continued to escalate. The ELN, founded in 1964, is one of the last remaining rebel groups in Colombia.

Escalation of kidnappings in Colombia

Kidnappings for ransom and extortion have been on the rise in Colombia, presenting a significant challenge to the government. Criminals and rebel groups in the country have long targeted civilians for abduction as a way to finance their operations. This illegal activity has persisted despite the government’s efforts to negotiate ceasefires with rebel groups like the ELN. The increase in ransom and extortion incidents reflects the complex dynamics at play in Colombia and underscores the need for effective measures to address these issues.

Historical context of ELN

The National Liberation Army, or ELN, was established in 1964 as a Marxist guerrilla group. Over the years, it has become one of the most prominent rebel groups in Colombia. The ELN’s founding principles revolved around social justice and the redistribution of wealth. Despite the changing socio-political landscape, the ELN has remained steadfast in its ideologies and armed struggle. Today, it is one of the last remaining rebel groups in the country, making its involvement in peace negotiations crucial for long-term stability.

President Petro’s condition for extending the cease-fire

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has outlined his condition for extending the cease-fire with the ELN rebels. Petro emphasized the need for the rebels to eliminate their reliance on illicit trade, specifically cocaine smuggling and other illegal activities. This condition aims to address the underlying sources of funding for the rebels’ operations. However, the ELN has vehemently denied involvement in cocaine smuggling, which could potentially become a stumbling block in the negotiations. Finding common ground on this controversial topic will be crucial for the success of the peace talks.


Controversial topic

The rebels’ alleged involvement in illicit trade, particularly cocaine smuggling, has become a contentious issue in the peace negotiations. While the government has emphasized the need to eliminate this reliance on illegal activities, the ELN has denied these accusations. This discrepancy in beliefs and positions creates a challenge for both sides in finding a resolution. Tackling the issue of illicit trade will require open and honest dialogue, as well as a commitment from both parties to address the underlying factors contributing to this problem.

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In conclusion, the agreement by the ELN rebels to stop their kidnappings for ransom marks a positive step towards peace in Colombia. This decision brings renewed hope and optimism to the peace talks, which have faced challenges due to the escalating kidnappings in the country. The involvement of Luis Díaz, a prominent soccer star, has brought international attention to the issue and highlighted the need for effective measures to address this problem. While there are still obstacles to overcome, such as the controversy surrounding illicit trade, the commitment from both sides to dialogue and find common ground is essential for long-term stability and progress. Colombia is at a pivotal moment in its history, and the success of these peace negotiations will shape the country’s future.

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