Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | July 19, 2011

Outrage at an ELN Communiqué

Eduardo Pizarro Leongómez wrote a column in El Tiempo a week ago expressing his outrage at a communiqué released by the ELN, the National Liberation Army, which is Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group after the FARC. The ELN said, “Today there exists all the causes that justify armed conflict: economic exploitation, political exclusion, social inequity, cultural alienation, military repression, external dependence.” The ELN added, “Colombia is the world champion in human rights abuses” and therefore, “the rebellion, the insurgency, and the subversion is not only a necessity but an obligation.”

Prof. Pizarro (I get to call him “prof.” because he was my professor at Columbia University, and his was one of the most interesting classes I took during my time there.) wrote that the ELN is disrespectful of public opinion which for years has been demanding the end of the bloodshed. Secondly, wrote Prof. Pizarro, their idea of human rights violations is misleading. Without a doubt, Colombia has challenges in human rights violations but what authority does the ELN have when it commits war crimes (kidnapping, taking hostages, planting landmines, and recruiting minors)?

Colombia has much work to do in income distribution as well. But Prof. Pizarro pointed out the guerrilla are responsible for 48 percent of forced displacement. Around two million Colombians have abandoned their land and fallen into poverty because of the actions of the FARC and the ELN.

Prof. Pizarro recounted the ELN was born 47 years ago in July, 1964 when they attacked the municipality of San Vicente de Chucurí in Santander department. The ELN was then comprised of young people militarily trained in Cuba.

Prof. Pizarro was appointed by the Vice-president of the Republic of Colombia to preside over the National Reconciliation and Reparation Commission. He was recently appointed a member of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court.

Prof. Pizarro is the brother of Carlos Pizarro Leongómez, AKA “Comandante Papito” (“Commander Hottie”), one of the leaders of the now-defunct group Movement 19th of April. Carlos Pizarro Leongómez, together with most of the M-19’s, signed a peace accord in 1990 and reintegrated themselves into civilian life. He aspired to Colombia’s presidency when the paramilitaries assasinated him in April 1990.


Council on Foreign Relations: FARC, ELN: Colombia’s Left-Wing Guerrillas

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