(CNN Spanish) — The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, suspended the arrest warrants against the negotiating leaders of the ELN guerrilla, to reactivate the peace talks and the possible disarmament of this armed group.
During an event in the department of Bolívar, in northern Colombia, President Petro said that by suspending the arrest and extradition orders that the negotiators have with the National Liberation Army, he seeks to try to “build the road, hopefully quickly and expeditiously , where this organization ceases to be an insurgent guerrilla of Colombia”.
The announcement comes days after a commission headed by Colombian Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva arrived in Havana, Cuba, for exploratory talks to resume the peace talks frozen since 2019. The objective of these talks was to set the rules of the game to sit down at a possible negotiating table.
The Colombian Prosecutor’s Office said in 2016 that the ELN Central Command is responsible for 15,896 war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among them, said the Prosecutor’s Office, for 2016, were:
These are some of the negotiators and the accusations they have pending.
“Antonio Garcia”, the leader of the ELN
The leader of the ELN is Eliécer Herlinto Chamorro, known by the alias “Antonio García”. He has held that position since June 2021, according to the Insight Crime organization, the year in which Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, alias “Gabino”, who had been at the head of the guerrilla since the 1970s, resigned from his position.
“Antonio García” was born in January 1956 in Mocoa, Putumayo, in southwestern Colombia. He joined the guerrilla group in 1975 and “rapidly rose through the hierarchy of the organization” and “is considered one of the most radical members of the organization” charged with increasing the group’s military capacity, says Insight Crime.
Has a Interpol red notice for kidnapping, aggravated homicide and qualified and aggravated robbery.
The ELN has a Central Command made up of five members: one of them is the military commander, who also acts as commander of the entire organization, and the rest have divided areas of action: political affairs, international affairs, financial operations, and communications. between the Central Command and the “War Fronts” in which the guerrillas are organized.
For several years, García has been the spokesperson for the ELN with Colombian governments to carry out exploratory peace negotiations. It was, in fact, together with alias ‘Gabino’, who announced the ELN’s willingness to enter into exploratory talks with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos in 2014.
Among the crimes of which ‘Antonio García’ is accused are the crimes of aggravated homicide, aggravated femicide, and aggravated rebellion, as well as homicide of a protected person and forced displacement, among others, according to the prosecution.
Pablo Beltrán, second commander of the ELN
Israel Ramírez Pineda, alias ‘Pablo Beltrán’, is the second commander of the COCE and was the head of the ELN delegation for the peace talks with the government of Juan Manuel Santos, which began in 2016 in Quito, Ecuador.
Ramírez Pineda was born in December 1953 in San Gil, Santander, in northwestern Colombia, and studied Petroleum Engineering at the Universidad Industrial de Santander (UIS), from where he was expelled. He joined the ELN in the 1970s.
For years he has been an ELN negotiator with several governments, as he did with the government of former President Andrés Pastrana to achieve a peace agreement. Beltrán was the one who revealed the ELN’s decision to suspend them indefinitely, according to the Colombian newspaper El Espectador.
He faces charges, among others, for homicide, personal injury and terrorism, according to Interpol, which issued a red circular.
Alias Aureliano Carbonell
Aureliano Carbonell, whose real name is Víctor Orlando Cubides, is part of the ELN dialogue commission. According to the newspaper El Espectador, he is considered one of the “intellectuals” of this guerrilla group. He is also known as “Pablo Tejada”.
It has a red Interpol circular for the terrorist attack against the Bogotá General Santander police school in 2019, an event for which the government of former President Iván Duque suspended negotiations with the ELN, reported Efe.
In an interview with the Open Truth portal in 2020‘Carbonell’ said that the confrontation with other criminal groups in the Department of Norte de Santander is part of his insurgent project, and denied that the ELN had links to drug trafficking.
“The ELN has no relationship with drug trafficking… It does not have laboratories, it does not process (cocaine),” the guerrilla leader said in August 2020. “The ELN is not involved in commercialization either, in general… It is not into it.”
In 2019, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, said that both Cubides and other ELN chief negotiators in Cuba, should be extradited to Colombia for crimes of rebellion, terrorism, multiple simple homicide and multiple personal injuries. The order seeks to pay a sentence of 40 years in prison for a request from the Fourth Court of Execution of Penalties and Security Measures of Antioquia.
Other ELN negotiators for the peace talks are Gustavo Aníbal Giraldo Quinchía, alias “Pablito”; Rafael Sierra Granados, alias ‘Ramiro Vargas’, Isabel Torres, María Consuelo Tapias, Tomas García Laviana, Oscar Serrano and Vivian Henao.
Crimes of which the leaders of the ELN Central Command are accused
The Colombian Prosecutor’s Office reported in 2016 some of the crimes of which the ELN Central Command is accused, of which some of its members are part of the group of negotiators for the peace talks.
- 126 homicides of women, for the years 1981 to 2014, in the departments of Arauca, Boyacá and Casanare,
- The murder of Senator Jorge Cristo Sahium, which occurred in Cúcuta, Norte de Santander, on August 18, 1997
- The kidnapping, torture and murder of the Bishop of Arauca, Monsignor Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve, committed on October 2, 1989 by the Domingo Laín Front.
- The kidnapping of 70 people in September 2000 in a rural area of Valle del Cauca.
- The kidnapping of 10 officials from the Prosecutor’s Office and the Technical Investigation Corps that occurred between March 11, 1997 and November 6, 2004, in the department of Cesar.
- They are accused of 31 kidnappings of foreign citizens between 1996 and 2007 in the departments of Antioquia, Caldas and Chocó.
- The ELN Central Command (COCE) is also responsible for 520 cases of planting antipersonnel mines and blowing up power towers between 1991 and 2014, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.