March 3, 2006
The "Army of National Liberation" (ELN), the second-ranking guerrilla force in Colombia (motto: "¡Nosotros ponemos más esfuerzo!") has pledged not to make any attacks during the March 12 congressional elections. The presidential elections will be held in May. Government mediators and rebel repesentatives recently held talks in Havana, and will do so again in April. See CNN.com. This truce offer shows there is still hope for a possible disarmament accord, such as was reached with two other Colombian guerrilla movements over a decade ago. Only 3,500 ELN insurgents remain active, thanks to the counteroffensive campaign waged by President Uribe. Unfortunately, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, with about 12,000 effectives) remain grimly committed to inflicting mayhem as a tool for reaping a large share of profits from the narcotics trade. The right-wing militias are almost as dangerous and drug-corrupted as the left-wing rebels.
The inauguration of president-elect Rene Preval, previously scheduled for March 29, has been delayed because it is contingent upon holding legislative elections, which have been postponed until complaints over last month's presidential elections are resolved. In the mean time, Preval is visiting the Dominican Republic, the neighbor with which relations have been chilly in recent months because of the alleged mistreatment of Haitians there. See BBC.
A judge in Chile has denied the petition for bail made by the former president of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, so he will remain in jail pending a decision on extraditing him to Peru. See CNN.com.