The National Liberation Army (ELN) announced on Monday, March 30, that it will observe a unilateral ceasefire due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. According to the statement, the ceasefire will last from April 1-30 as a “humanitarian gesture.” However, the group warned that it reserves the right to defend itself from government and paramilitary forces. ELN leaders also called for bilateral talks with President Ivan Duque’s government to resume in Havana (Cuba).
As of Tuesday, March 31, it is unclear if the government will also declare a temporary ceasefire or resume talks with the ELN.
Peace talks between the government and the ELN, which has conducted an ongoing armed insurgency since the 1960s, were put on hold after President Duque assumed power in 2018. President Duque has previously said he will only resume negotiations with the ELN once the group ceases all attacks and releases all hostages.
Individuals in Colombia are advised to keep abreast of the situation and obey all instructions issued by the local authorities.
Due to the presence of a number of armed groups - including organized crime groups, drug cartels, right-wing militias, and local gangs, in addition to the ELN - some Western governments advise against travel to various parts of the country.