The guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN) announced this Sunday an "active unilateral" ceasefire between April 1 and 30 as a "humanitarian gesture" due to the coronavirus pandemic, of which there are already 702 cases in Colombia.
"The cessation is active because we reserve the right to defend ourselves against attacks by state forces, made up of regular troops, paramilitaries and drug gangs in various regions of the country," the guerrillas said in a statement whose authenticity has not been verified.
The ELN also requested a meeting of representatives of the Government of Colombian President Iván Duque, with their delegates in the suspended peace talks, to seek a broader ceasefire.
"During this month of unilateral cessation, we call on the Duque Government to meet with our dialogue delegation present in Havana to arrange a bilateral and temporary ceasefire. For these efforts it is convenient to have the presence of the guarantor countries," he adds. the notice.
The guerrilla group assured that one of the reasons that led him to declare a unilateral ceasefire throughout April was the call made on 23 March by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, for a world ceasefire to stop all wars to help cope with the coronavirus.
He also appreciated the request of the special representative of the UN Secretary General in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, who asked this week that a "cease fire" be declared in the country to join efforts and "reduce the risk of the virus spreading and of affectation, especially to the most vulnerable communities ".
The ELN's announcement was also made hours after the Colombian government announced the designation of former guerrilla leaders Carlos Arturo Velandia, alias "Felipe Torres", and Gerardo Antonio Bermúdez, alias "Francisco Galán", as "promoters of peace."
REQUIREMENTS FOR COVID-19
In the statement, the illegal armed group makes a series of statements about the world situation by COVID-19, after which it presents its demands, contained in 15 points, one of which is the meeting of its delegates with those of the Government in Cuba.
These demands are basically of an economic and social order so that Colombians can overcome the restrictions imposed by the mandatory 19-day quarantine ordered by the Government and to contain the pandemic.
"That the Government provide free of charge the confirmation test of the contagion, medical supplies and medications to prevent the spread of the coronavirus," says one of the points.
DIALOGUES IN DEAD POINT
The last time the ELN made a unilateral ceasefire was at Easter last year, between April 14-21.
The ELN began peace negotiations with the previous Colombian government in February 2017 in Quito, which in May 2018 were transferred to Havana where the last round of dialogues concluded without progress in early August of that year.
The President of Colombia, Iván Duque, made the continuation of the peace talks conditional on that group ceasing to kidnap and releasing the people in its power.
However, the peace process came to a standstill after the terrorist attack committed by the ELN on January 17, 2019 against the Police School in Bogotá, which left 22 cadets dead, including one Ecuadorian, and 66 wounded.