ELN conditions bilateral ceasefire as crisis in Colombia deepens

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Colombia’s Attorney General, Francisco Barbosa, confirmed Monday, that President Gustavo Petro requested that the arrest warrant against the National Liberation Army’s (ELN) Antonio García, be suspended. The announcement that the Attorney General’s Office will grant the request for one of the guerrilla’s chief commanders and peace negotiators, could signal a conditioned, bilateral, ceasefire.

The ELN is wrapping up a third round of the talks with the Colombian Government in Havana, Cuba. “We verified legal procedures and consider that yes, it is possible to suspend the arrest warrant because… peace processes are under way,” said Barbosa during a keynote address in Bogotá.

A six-month bilateral ceasefire by the 3,500-strong guerrilla would come as the Petro government faces its worst institutional crisis after conversations between Colombia’s former Ambassador to Venezuela, Armando Benedetti, and Petro’s former chief of staff, Laura Sarabia, leaked to Semana.

In the explosive audio, Benedetti reveals that COP$15,000 million (estimated US$4 million) entered the Petro 2022 campaign from donors on the Colombian coast, and suggests that some of the funds were from drug trafficking groups. “We are all going down” claims Benedetti during one of his rants.

The revelation that Petro may have secured 4 million votes on the Colombian coast, ahead of the second round of elections, from illicit sources has plunged the Petro administration into a profound credibility crisis, and one that threatens to derail the government’s reforms to health, labor and pensions.