ELN leader ‘Visaje’ killed in Army operation in northern Colombia

Archive – Guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN). – BRASIL DE FATO / FLICKR

Colombia has announced the death of Luis Gabriel Zea Berna, alias ‘Visaje’, one of the leaders of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the north of the country, at a time when the government and guerrillas made evident in late December their disagreement to seal a bilateral ceasefire while negotiating peace.

The commander of the First Army Division, General Erick Rodríguez, has detailed that ‘Visaje, leader of the ELN’s José Antonio Galán front, had arrest warrants for the crimes of rebellion, robbery and criminal association, and that he was killed during a military operation in the south of Bolívar.

This region of the country and the north of Antioquia were the main areas of influence of ‘Visaje’, who was caught by the Colombian authorities when he was carrying out «forced recruitment, extortion and intimidation of inhabitants of the area».

Visaje’ had «a criminal record of more than thirteen years in the ELN», highlighted General Rodriguez, reports RCN. He is considered responsible for several bombings against public agents and police facilities in Antioquia.

This operation comes as government and guerrillas negotiate peace after resuming stalled talks in 2019. However, after the momentum of establishing a new dialogue table, the ELN’s clarifications assuring that they did not sign a bilateral ceasefire as stated by President Gustavo Petro created a small crisis and some uncertainty.

The second round of negotiations is scheduled for February 13 in Mexico after an extraordinary meeting was held a few days ago in Caracas, Venezuela, to resolve the disagreement that resulted from the announcement of this bilateral ceasefire.


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