While a lot of the news out of Colombia lately has centered around a peace deal between the government and long-time insurgency FARC, another Marxist insurgent group that’s also been around for about 52 years is looking to get its own peace process going.
The ELN’s founders went to Cuba in the early 1960s to receive training there, and were a substantial group that kidnapped huge numbers of people throughout the years, though in recent years they’ve played second fiddle to FARC as a priority for Colombia.
The ELN today freed one of their hostages, a rice farmer, the third hostage they’ve freed in the past two weeks, and Colombian officials are saying that the talks will begin on October 27. The Santos government has been very eager to make peace deals. The talks are to be held in Ecuador.
How the situation with the FARC deal will impact this negotiation remains to be seen, but disappointment within the government over negotiating a final peace deal with FARC only to narrowly lose a referendum on the pact this month is likely to shape the direction of the talks, with both sides not just negotiating with each other, but trying to reach a deal that will also be palatable to the Colombian public, a harder task than anyone initially figured.