HomeNewsBriefELN Kidnapping a Major Obstacle to Peace Talks?
BRIEF

ELN Kidnapping a Major Obstacle to Peace Talks?

COLOMBIA / 2 MAY 2016 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Colombia's ELN guerrillas' refusal to formally renounce kidnapping may prove to be a major obstacle for the start of peace talks with the government that were announced by both sides earlier this year.

According to Colombia's Defense Ministry, the National Liberation Army (ELN) is currently holding nine hostages, reported El Espectador. However, País Libre, a non-governmental organization that tracks kidnapping in Colombia, reports that the ELN has only two hostages.

The government is currently involved in peace talks with Colombia's biggest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC). The FARC's decision to publicly renounced kidnapping in 2012 was widely seen as having helped convince the government to sit down and negotiate with the rebel group. The ELN, however, has failed to do the same despite agreeing to enter into its own peace process with the government. 

In an interview with El Espectador, ELN leader Israel Ramírez Pineda, alias "Pablo Beltrán," said kidnapping was an issue "on the table" for upcoming peace talks. "The government has gone to a lot of effort to make sure that this issue would be addressed," he added.

The issue is complicated by two recent kidnappings that the ELN has reportedly profited from. 

In early April, the ELN released former governor Patrocinio Sánchez Montes de Oca, whom they'd kidnapped in 2013. Recently, however, Sánchez revealed to Colombian media that he was not released as a good-will gesture -- he was exchanged for his brother. Sánchez was in ill health, so his brother insisted on taking his place, the former governor said. 

In a similar situation, the ELN released a hostage in March who had been kidnapped in September 2015. The minister of Interior has described that release as "a gesture that opens the possibility of finally beginning formal negotiations." However, that hostage later said he was released after his family paid the guerrillas a ransom, rather than as a gesture of good will. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The ELN are obviously reluctant to give up a criminal activity that they have long relied on for cash, and they may not be the only guerrilla group to feel this way. Notably, there have been reports that the FARC are encouraging increased planting of coca crops, perhaps in order to have a bigger reserve of funds should the government start seizing their other assets

SEE ALSO:  Colombia News and Profiles

The ELN may refuse to formally renounce kidnapping until the group has built up its own cash reserves. It is possible that the guerrillas also see this as a way to pressure the government into a bilateral ceasefire before continuing negotiations. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

HAITI / 6 JUL 2022

UN staff and diplomats may be being targeted for kidnapping in Haiti, specifically so police can use international outcry to…

BELIZE / 10 AUG 2021

The leader of a transnational money laundering network cleaned drug money through a scheme that included casinos, a seafood export…

AUC / 13 APR 2022

It was 7:00 at night. Carolina was lying in bed and turned on the TV just as a news reporter…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…

WORK WITH US

Work With Us: Research Internship and Editorial Internship

31 OCT 2022

InSight Crime, a think tank dedicated to the study of organized crime and citizen security in the Americas, is seeking interns and investigators to join its dynamic, multinational team.