Correction Notice: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Olimpo Cárdenas as a member of the National Liberation Army (ELN)’s peace team. We apologise for this error and any confusion or harm it may have caused. Olimpo Cárdenas is actually a member of the peace team of the Congreso de los Pueblos (Congress of the Peoples) and the director of the Colombian alternative newspaper Periferia Prensa Alternativa.
Olimpo Cárdenas, a member of the peace team of the Congress of the Peoples (CDP), has clarified that the National Liberation Army (ELN) will not emulate the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the ongoing peace process with the Colombian government; rather, they will focus on small, step-by-step agreements. The ceasefire agreement, reached on 9 June 2023 and effective from 3 August 2023, marks a significant step in the efforts to end decades of conflict.
In an interview with NODAL – Noticias de América Latina y el Caribe on 9 August 2023, Cárdenas explained, “The ELN will not follow the FARC’s approach. If things are not implemented gradually, the process will not reach a conclusion.”
He further detailed that the ELN prefers small agreements, implemented step by step, unlike the FARC, where implementation was the last point. He emphasised that the goal is not only to resolve the armed conflict but also to address underlying causes, including economic, political, environmental, social and cultural factors.
Cárdenas also highlighted the uniqueness of the current government in Bogotá, Colombia, noting that the head of state is a former guerrilla and that there are left-wing leaders and liberal democrats in the administration.
He identified paramilitarism as the greatest threat to the peace process, describing it as a state policy with significant political, economic, and cultural power. He warned, “This structure, which is armed and accustomed to using state terrorism, genocide, will not make any change happen.”
The ELN’s Dialogue Delegation has also issued a statement calling for prudence and respect in the protocols governing the Bilateral, National, and Temporary Ceasefire with the Colombian government.
The Congreso de los Pueblos is a social and political movement in Colombia that aims to bring together various sectors of society to work towards peace and social justice. Periferia Prensa Alternativa is an alternative media outlet that likely focuses on grassroots reporting and social issues.