The guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN) of Colombia, announced on Wednesday their willingness to attend a peace dialogue with the government and to consider the surrender of weapons to end an armed conflict of five decades.
On the 50th anniversary of the taking of Simacota, their first armed incursion, the ELN also noted that the government of Juan Manuel Santos is facing “the disjunctive” to continue with a policy of war or choose peace.
The Colombian government has for months now advanced preliminary discussions with rebels to establish a formal negotiation table, and define a possible peace agreement.
“50 years ago we took up arms because we understood that legal means were closed to the struggles of the people, today we still consider so,” said the leader of the ELN, “Gabino,” in a video released by the guerrillas in the @ELN_Colombia Twitter account.
“The government has stated its willingness to end the armed conflict and for this it has called the insurgency. We attended this dialogue to examine the real will of the government and the Colombian State; If we conclude in this test that weapons are not necessary, we would have the willingness to consider if we leave them,” he added.
Santos invited the ELN to follow the steps of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the main guerrilla, with which it advances peace negotiations two years ago to put an end to five decades of conflict.