Colombia’s government has agreed a truce with the last active guerrilla group in the country, ending almost 60 years of conflict.
Ahead of a scheduled comprehensive ceasefire due in August, the National Liberation Army (ELN) has announced it will cease fighting from 6 July onwards, annotating that it will continue to defend itself against any assaults initiated by the military or other armed factions. Colombia’s defence minister has affirmed that the armed forces will also be instructed to cease offensives during this period.
However, three policemen were killed by members of the ELN on the day the ceasefire was announced, raising concerns over its chances of success. The police deaths came after the killing of six ELN members by government forces last week.
The truce follows a promise made by President Gustavo Petro to bring “total peace” to Colombia when he assumed office last year.
Elsewhere in the country, the Colombian Defence Minister, Ivan Velasquez, offered his condolences to the family of Alix Fabián Vargas Hernández, one of the many victims of extrajudicial killings by the Colombian army. Hernández had been falsely portrayed as a guerrilla fighter killed in combat when in fact he was slain by the national army in 2008.
Speaking to the press at the National Museum in the capital Bogota, Velasquez confirmed that Hernández’s death did not occur during a confrontation between the government forces and a guerrilla group.
During the public apology, Hernández’s sister voiced, “Why receive apologies from people who had nothing to do with my brother’s murder? Why aren’t those people who took my brother’s life here showing their faces?”
It has been revealed that over 6,400 people were killed as a result of extrajudicial killings in Colombia between 2002 and 2008.