Top Story — Colombia’s leftist guerrilla National Liberation Army announced Monday that it will free two soldiers kidnapped following a recent deadly raid, and on the same day appealed to the Catholic Church via Twitter to mediate a bilateral cease-fire and peace talks with the government.
Soldiers Andrés Felipe Pérez and Antonio Rodríguez were kidnapped during the Oct. 26 attack by the ELN in Güicán in the state of Boyacá, which killed 11 soldiers and one police officer who were transporting votes from the gubernatorial and mayoral elections form the day before.
The statement by Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group said that the church should have a definitive role in any peace talksand agreed with a September statement by Pope Francis that Colombia cannot afford another failed peace process. More than 200,000 people have been killed and some 92,000 people have gone missing since the conflict began in 1964.
The ELN’s larger counterpart, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has been in peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba since 2012, and urged the government to include the ELN in deliberations back in May. Since 2014, the rebel group has only engaged in preliminary informal peace talks.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
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- A Mexican national was sentenced to life in prison by a California judge on Monday after pleading guilty to a series of 9 murders stretching back to the 1980’s, some of which, he claims, were committed at the behest of an unnamed drug cartel.
- Two French pilots who fled a 20-year drug smuggling jail sentence in the Dominican Republic last week were arrested by French police in Lyon on Monday.
- The Cuban state-owned telecommunications company Etecsa and U.S. firm Sprint have signed the first agreement for direct roaming between the two countries.
- During Cuba’s top international trade fair the economic ministers of Spain and Cuba announced a deal to refinance Cuba’s $221.9 million debt to Spain along with other measures to increase economic flows between the two.
- Ahead of Wednesday’s general elections, Belize’s chief elections officer has spoken out concerning threats against her and her family, a month after Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow dissolved the National Assembly.
- Guatemalan President-Elect Jimmy Morales met with Acting President Alejandro Maldonado on Monday to begin the power transition process within the country, following the ouster of former President Otto Pérez amid charges of corruption and fraud.
- Ecuador’s government must pay some $1 billion to the U.S. Occidental Petroleum Corporation for seizing an oil field belonging to the company in 2006, at which time it was the largest oil firm in the country, following a decision by a World Bank tribunal to resize the payment following an initial 2012 ruling.
- The Miami Herald looks into the relocation of residents from an Andean mining town to a brand new development built by a Chinese corporation to spotlight the surge of Chinese investment in the region, in which the companies involved are perceived by some to treat local citizens and workers better than in China, a phenomenon reportedly due in part to strong regulation.
- An explosion in a pharmaceutical lab in the Galerias district of Bogotá, Colombia, left 15 injured on Monday.
- Brazil’s main oil workers’ union remained on strike for a second day Monday in protest of state oil firm Petrobras’ recent asset sales, part of an overall downsizing effort following a collapse in oil prices and a historic corruption scandal at the firm.
- Nine of the 33 Chilean miners whose rescue in 2010 captivated international news have sued their lawyers for fraud, claiming that they were cheated out of royalties for a Hollywood depiction of their ordeal starring Antonio Banderas, among other financial remuneration.