Colombia lifts arrest warrant for ELN leader

Colombia lifts an arrest warrant for Antonio Garcia, the current leader of the ELN, which has adopted the ideas and struggle of Che Guevara.

The Colombian Attorney General's Office has lifted the arrest warrant for the commander-in-chief of the guerrilla movement, the National Liberation Army (ELN), which is currently negotiating with the government.

Prosecutor Francisco Barbosa said: “I have received a new order signed by the President, asking to suspend the arrest warrant for Antonio Garcia, ELN leader."

The prosecutor added: “Yes, we think it is possible to suspend the arrest warrant”.

Antonio Garcia is currently the leader of the ELN, which has adopted the ideas and struggle of Che Guevara.

The Colombian judiciary issued an arrest warrant for Garci on charges of forcibly recruiting 73 teens and being involved in a bomb attack on a police station that killed 22 people in 2019.

Negotiations between the ELN and the left-wing government of Gustavo Petro began in November 2022. The negotiations continued in Mexico's capital, Mexico, until March 2023. The parties committed to discussing a ceasefire during that time. Since May 17, negotiations have been taking place in Havana, the capital of Cuba, to end hostilities.

Shortly after he came to power, Gustavo, a former guerrilla, requested the removal of the arrest warrants for 16 guerrilla leaders in August 2022 in order to start new negotiations. Antonio Garcia was not on the list in question.

In Colombia, where conflicts have been taking place for half a century, many attempts have been made for peace negotiations with guerrilla movements to no avail. But in 2016, a landmark agreement led to the disarmament of the country's largest guerrilla movement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and turned it into a political party. According to data from the Colombian Ministry of Defence, the ELN, the last guerrilla movement still active in Colombia, had at least 5,850 fighters in 2022.