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

COLOMBIA / 8 AUG 2012

Despite reports of the rise of a paramilitary-style "army" dedicated to fighting land restitution in northern Colombia, little is known…

COLOMBIA / 28 AUG 2020

The systematic recruiting of minors continues to be a favorite strategy for non-state armed actors in Colombia to bolster their…

COCAINE / 11 NOV 2019

With Colombia now producing more cocaine than ever before, the rise of illegal mining, as well as widespread extortion, the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Criminal Enterprise on the High Seas

12 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an extensive investigation into Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing that plagues the waters of nine Latin American countries. Among the stories were how…

THE ORGANIZATION

Oceans Pillaged in Central America and the Caribbean

5 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the first installment of a nine-part investigation uncovering the hidden depths of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Latin America. The first installment covered Central America and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua Becomes Truly Transnational

29 JUL 2022

This week, InSight Crime published a deep dive into the total control that Venezuelan mega-gang, Tren de Aragua, has over the lives of those it smuggles between Venezuela and Chile…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkish Traffickers Delivering Latin American Cocaine to Persian Gulf

15 JUL 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an investigation piecing together the emerging role of Turkish cocaine traffickers in supplying Russia and the Persian Gulf, which are among…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkey as a Lynchpin in European Cocaine Pipeline

8 JUL 2022

InSight Crime is extending its investigation into the cocaine pipeline to Europe, and tracking the growing connections between Latin American drug traffickers and European criminal organizations. This led us to…