ELN: Colombia – A Ghost Train, Not a Peace Train

“The revolution is indispensable because now the power is in the hands of a minority of fifty families whose interests supersede those of the majority, which means that this minority has total political control, even over elections. Demolishing this power monopoly is what I consider a revolution: the transfer of power from the hands of the oligarchy to the hands of the popular class.”

– Camilo Torres Restrepo 1965

Following the delivery, on Tuesday 27 June, of the last weapons in the hands of the FARC to the United Nations Commission, in compliance with the agreement in Havana, and after the end of the second round of negotiations between the National Liberation (ELN) and the Santos government on June 30, many dare to imagine that the country and the revolutionaries are facing a unique historical moment where conditions and guarantees are given for the exercise of a legal political struggle, not only for the insurgency, but for the whole people.

This biased vision, in some cases innocent, in other cases malicious, pursues two objectives:

  • first,
    to legitimize the oligarchic regime and its representative democracy as a viable project for the Colombian people,
  • and secondly,
    to obfuscate and confuse the political character of the insurgency, and in particular, to present the political positions of the ELN as impertinent and dogmatic.

The idea of ​​a country riding on the peace train does not correspond to the reality of Colombian daily life, and even less now that the port of arrival of the train is legal political activity for the insurgency and the popular movement in the contest for political power.

This contradiction is mainly due to a lack of focus on the pursuit of peace – while on the one hand the insurgency and society see in peace the opportunity to open the floodgates of democratization as a starting point for the construction of a peaceful nation and social equity; on the other hand, the regime has abandoned itself to pacification as a means to achieve disarmament of the insurgency and unleash the delivery of the entire national territory to foreign capitals, as well as the pretense of bringing the insurgency to renounce the legitimate right of rebellion.

It is evident the lack of word and commitment of the regime to fulfill the agreement, as demonstrated by the last demonstrations and protests of various sectors of the country, who before the failure of the government, are forced to mobilization and social protests as the sole resource to demand their rights. To this long list of violations is added the recent concern of members of the FARC, which as Jesus Santrich, a member of the Central Command of that organization, declared in recent statements, that after the government violated the agreement, it is clear that a true peace is not the will of the regime, and this is a very bad omen for the negotiation process with the ELN.

An inescapable condition to get Colombia on the peace train is the state’s irrevocable renunciation of the use of legal and illegal violence as a means to remain in power, a situation that does not transcend rhetoric, since everyone is knows the conspiracy of politicians, government officials, the armed forces and paramilitary groups for counter-insurgency action, and the plunder of the territories. It is also demonstrated by the growing paramilitarism in areas abandoned by the FARC and by the recent corruption and para-political scandal in the Attorney General’s office.

Undoubtedly Colombia’s efforts for peace should not be stopped and these adversities should become an incentive to hold the flag of peace high, both by the insurgency and by society and in this effort we have committed ourselves as ELN, reiterating our willingness to put an end to the armed confrontation. However, this goal cannot be at any price. The lack of will to peace on the part of the established order pushes away, more and more, the real peace to which all Colombians aspire.

With regard to the 53rd anniversary of the ELN July 4, the men and women who are part of it remain faithful to the principles and ideals that gave rise to us as an armed rebel organization in July 4, 1964, because far from all dogma or caprice, reality forces us to do so. Consciousness and reason accompany us, saying that the peace train has not even started its boilers, and that to push it requires the real will on the part of the state as well as the active participation of society in the construction of that new peaceful Colombia that we desire and dream of.

ELN Central Command
July 3, 2017
Source in Spanish
Translated by Internationalist 360°