The Facts

  • Colombia's largest remaining armed group, the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN), on Tuesday rejected claims that it was part of a ceasefire agreement with the government announced by Pres. Gustavo Petro on Dec. 31.

  • Petro, himself a former guerrilla member, had claimed the ELN and four other major illegal paramilitary groups had signed a six-month bilateral ceasefire agreement that would include a "national and international verification mechanism" and specific conditions for each group.

The Spin

Establishment-critical narrative

As Petro is busy fantasizing about a ceasefire with the ELN, the killing in the country continues. Indeed, a historic peace deal with the FARC was reached in 2016, but the vacuum has been filled by a myriad of armed groups and the ELN, while violence and coca production have only increased. To effectively combat organized crime and dry up the drug swamp, the government would have to tackle structural reforms while faced with security, logistical, and political challenges. It's doubtful that Petro will bring "total peace" to Colombia.

Pro-establishment narrative

There's no doubt that Petro faces a mammoth task with his plan to bring "total peace" to Colombia. The murder rate exceeds that of Mexico, and drug trafficking is flourishing as seldom before. Nonetheless, over twenty criminal and armed groups, including the ELN and FARC offshoots, have expressed willingness to enter peace talks with Bogotá. In addition, there's a pro-government majority in Congress and a population that elected Petro precisely because the stakes could hardly be higher. The task is daunting, but if Petro succeeds, it could ripple throughout Latin America.

Establishment split



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