Colombia’s ELN, Mexico, and the Government

Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group, the ELN (Ejercito de la Liberacion Nacional, or Army of National Liberation) is talking to the government and to the Mexican government about a possible peace negotiation with the Mexican government as guarantor.

If you are wondering how the Mexican governnment, which deploys pretty much the exact same techniques (a US-funded and trained military, paramilitary killers to commit massacres and assassinations to create a refugee problem and destroy the popular base of a guerrilla movement) if on a smaller scale, is supposed to guarantee a peace between Colombian guerrillas and the government, you are not alone.

A little bit about the ELN. The stereotypes about ELN, which have a grain of truth, are: that it at its founding it was more inspired by the Cuban revolution (whereas the FARC is much more a Colombian-based group that organized for self-defense against landowners, private armies, and state violence); that it is more interested in dialogue with the social movements (it tried to spur a major dialogue effort that included social movements years ago); and that it is militarily smaller and weaker than the FARC. Given Uribe’s hard-line stance against the guerrillas, it seems hard to imagine that he would accept a ‘peace’ that isn’t essentially a surrender. Given the history of Colombian guerrillas putting down their arms to get slaughtered, it is hard to imagine the ELN would go for such. So I’m not sure where these dialogues can go.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.