News / Americas

Colombia Demands Release of Hostages Before Any ELN Peace Talks

FILE - Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota, April 17, 2013FILE - Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota, April 17, 2013
x
FILE - Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota, April 17, 2013
FILE - Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota, April 17, 2013
Reuters
Colombia will not enter peace talks with the country's second-biggest guerrilla group, the ELN, until it releases captives including a Canadian citizen held hostage since January, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Thursday.
 
The National Liberation Army, a rebel group with about 3,000 fighters known as ELN, has expressed interest in seeking a peace accord similar to the one being discussed in Cuba with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
 
The ELN seized Canadian geologist Jernoc Wobert in northern Bolivar province along with two Peruvian and three Colombian miners contracted by gold mining company Braeval Mining . His five colleagues were later freed by the rebels.
 
“Eventually, if the ELN decides to enter, and for us to agree, it has to free its captives, above all the Canadian it holds,'' Santos said during an address to soldiers in Bogota.
 
The FARC has been hammering out peace terms with government negotiators since November to bring an end to five decades of war that has killed more than 100,000 people. The government wants a peace agreement signed by the end of this year.
 
Santos' demands come a day after the ELN conditioned Wobert's release on Braeval Mining handing over mining rights to people living close to its installations in northern Colombia.
 
The rebel group, like the FARC, objects to foreign companies exploiting the land and damaging the environment. Both insurgent groups want the government to change the way it deals with overseas investors, something the government has refused to consider.
 
Colombia, a nation of 46 million, has attracted record foreign direct investment in recent years as government troops push the ELN and FARC guerrilla groups deeper into the thick jungles and make it harder for them to launch attacks.
 
But the rebels have managed to remain relevant, striking at oil and mining companies and causing damage to the nation's economic drivers.
 
The ELN, inspired by the Cuban revolution and established by radical Catholic priests, has battled a dozen governments since it was founded in 1964. It has sought peace before, holding talks in Cuba and Venezuela between 2002 and 2007.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Argentina, US Creditors Fail to Reach Deal; Default Imminent

This will mark the second time in 13 years Argentina has defaulted on its debt
More

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Officials grapple with ways to deal with problem, provide shelter for thousands of minors among illegal border crossers
More

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Legal school segregation ended in the US 60 years ago, but research project finds it still occurs based on income and race
More

Cuban Tourism Industry Stalls in 2013; Up 3.9 Percent Through June

Statistics seen as latest indication of general slowdown in country's economy
More

Video US Senate Advances Bill to Address Border Crisis

Legislation would authorize funds to house, process tens of thousands of undocumented Central American minors arriving at southern border, but faces many hurdles
More

Urbanization Can Bring Health Risks

Researchers warn of increase in heart disease, diabetes
More