Colombian guerrilla ELN claims responsibility for Bogota attack

The attack at the School of Cadets of the Police, General Santander in Bogota (Colombia) last Thursday had caused the death of 21 people.

The Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN, (National Liberation Army) has claimed responsibility for the attack at the School of Cadets of the Police, General Santander in Bogota (Colombia) last Thursday that caused the death of 21 people and injured 68.

The guerrilla group said the attack was “a war action” carried out in response to the attacks by the Colombian army during the unilateral ceasefire called by the ELN during the Christmas holidays.

The statement also criticised President Ivan Duque for having broken the negotiation talks going on in Havana, last November.

The claim confirmed the accusation moved by Colombian authorities a few hours after the attack. The consequences of what has happened have already crossed the Colombian border to affect other countries. The responsibility claimed by the ELN is also likely to cause other political and diplomatic relations involving Cuba and Venezuela. 

Cuba is the country (and guarantor) where the negotiation table between the Colombian Government and the ELN has been installed and where talks have been carried out until last November. The negotiation team of the ELN, made up of ten of its maximum leaders, has displaced itself in Havana through a protocol accepted by the Colombian Government.

After the attack at the Santander school, President Duque said he had ordered to reactivate the arrest warrants for the whole ELN team in Cuba.

Duque has asked the reactivation through the Interpol and ordered the immediate extradition of the ELN leaders.

The reaction of the Cuban government has been to reaffirm that they will stick to the protocol agreed, however the claim of responsibility by the ELN puts Cuba in a delicate situation, given that the Colombian authorities could also decided to adopt other diplomatic actions. This situation, furthermore, could also be used as an “excuse” by the US to reinsert Cuba in its annual list of “countries that support terrorism”.

On the other hand the Colombian authorities have also accused Venezuela to give shelter to other ELN guerrillas and this comes at the time when relations between the two countries are extremely tense. Indeed, the two countries share a long border where operate ELN guerrillas.