Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) Chief Negotiator Pablo Beltran has accused the government in a Twitter video of "not showing up" to extend the ceasefire agreement between the two parties "without any real motives."
Beltran, in a video posted on the guerrilla group’s ELN Paz (Peace) Twitter account, says the government of President Manuel Santos is accusing the ELN of "not respecting the ceasefire agreement. That is false," says Beltran.
The ELN leader states the decades-old Marxist group tried to apply the ceasefire terms in November and December, but that ultimately the agreement wasn't practically applicable.
"The verification mechanism for the ceasefire wasn't functional, so we withdrew ourselves from it in December," Beltran says, noting that the Colombian military was attacking ELN members in their "traditional zones" in rural parts of the country.
“The State Army operations were gaining terrain in our traditional zones. (We) had to dodge confrontation... The government withdrew from the talks without any real motives."
Ceasefire talks broke down Jan. 10 when President Santos called his lead negotiator back to Colombia after receiving word that members of the ELN allegedly attacked the state oil company, Colombian Petrol, in the departments of Boyaca and Arauca.
For over a month Beltran – along with Colombian activists, academics, unions and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres – have been urging Santos to come back to the negotiation table to implement an enforceable ceasefire agreement.
Instead, last week the Attorney General's Office issued a warrant arrest against 21 ELN members, including Beltran himself for alleged forced disappearances and rebellion.