Colombia’s ELN declares unilateral ceasefire over Coronavirus

The group said they reserved the right to defend themselves against the attacks.

The National Liberation Army (ELN) announced a unilateral ceasefire in Colombia for the month of April. This is a humanitarian gesture by the organization facing the difficult situation caused by Covid-19 in the South American nation.

Telesur TV reported that in the communique, the paramilitary group denounced the lack of response in resources and action by the state concerning the virus spreading. It also criticizes Colombian President Ivan Duque for taking advantage of the situation to militarize the country.

The organization also referred to the crisis in the prison system due to government mismanagement and the social crisis because of the lack of resources for the population.

The ELN called on the Colombian President to reestablish dialogue with his delegates in Cuba to agree on a bilateral and temporary cessation of hostilities. ELN requested guarantor countries’ presence.

The leftist organization expressed other demands, such as the release of political prisoners, the provision of free tests to confirm the infection and that "health must return to be an inalienable right, of obligatory coverage by the State", among others.

"Through this communication, the guerrilla group of the National Liberation Army, ELN in Colombia, announced its unilateral cessation for 1 month and proposes to the government of Ivan Duque, to retake the dialogues with its delegates in Cuba to agree on a bilateral and temporary cessation."

ELN emphasized that the ceasefire is active, since "we reserve the right to defend ourselves against the attacks announced by the regular troops, paramilitaries and the state forces of the drug trafficking gangs throughout the country.

Last Saturday, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of the international body verification mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, asked the country's armed groups to implement a ceasefire during the health emergency caused by the coronavirus 2019.