HAVANA – National Liberation Army (ELN) leader Nicolas Rodriguez said on Thursday in Havana that the Colombian government was not showing a willingness to fight right-wing militia groups, one of the biggest obstacles to achieving a complete peace process in the South American country.
During a joint press conference with the FARC, Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, Rodriguez, also known as “Gabino,” said it was the government’s responsibility to deal with “this serious phenomenon” because many rebel leaders had been killed by paramilitary groups during the peace negotiations.
The ELN and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which are meeting for the first time in public in Havana, have long demanded the dismantling of paramilitary groups in the South American country.
The ELN and FARC issued a joint statement saying they shared “common objectives, with diverse but complementary paths, including active social participation in efforts to achieve peace.”
The rebel groups pledged “to keep victims’ rights at the heart of the search for peace,” said the statement released by Gabino and FARC top leader Timoleon Jimenez, also known as “Timochenko.”
ELN and FARC representatives opened a “historic meeting” Tuesday in Havana, the venue for almost four years of negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC that led to a peace agreement signed last September.
The implementation of the government’s agreement with the FARC has hit some bumps with regard to disarmament, while the talks with the ELN that started on Feb. 7 will resume next week in Quito, Ecuador.