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Colombia tries another step towards peace by resuming dialogue with the ELN guerrilla

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This, adds the text read in a public act, to “build peace from a democracy with justice and with tangible, urgent and necessary changes that this table agrees on.”

The statement draws attention to the “need” for “permanent and verifiable commitments that sow certainty of a new culture of peace.”

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Both parties also appreciate “the persistence, commitment and presence” of the countries that act as guarantors of the talks: Cuba, Norway and Venezuela, the venue for this first contact.

On October 4, after a meeting in Caracas, representatives of Petro and the ELN had agreed to restore the process with rotating venues among the guarantor nations.

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Petro, Colombia’s first leftist president and former guerrilla, reactivated contacts with the ELN after assuming power on August 7, with the goal of resuming negotiations interrupted in January 2019 by Duque after an attack on a police school that left 22 dead. In addition to the attacker. The ELN delegates were received for four years in Cuba.

“We are here honoring life, the lives of so many beings who are no longer here,” said the High Commissioner for Peace of the Colombian government, Iván Danilo Rueda, after the meeting. “Murdered, disappeared,” he continued.

The ELN is the last recognized guerrilla in Colombia. Founded in 1964 by unionists and students sympathetic to Ernesto “Che” Guevara and the Cuban Revolution, the organization has held unsuccessful negotiations with the last five presidents of that country.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a peace agreement in 2016 and became a political party.

After the suspension of the talks, the ELN increased its force footing from 1,800 to 2,500 members, according to official estimates, with the energy infrastructure and transnational companies in Colombia as the main “military objectives.”

Although Antonio García heads the governing body known as the Central Command, the organization has a federated structure with its own spokesperson on each front, which according to experts makes negotiations difficult.

The ELN delegate at yesterday’s meeting, Pablo Beltrán, hopes that the dialogue table will respond to the “moment of change that Colombia is experiencing.” “This table must be and we aim to make it an instrument of change and we hope not to fail.”

With a presence on the border with Venezuela, the ELN has less firepower than the disbanded FARC had, but its social base, made up of militiamen, is broader, according to researchers.

“Our changes, those of the government peace delegation, are true and real and we have begun to find harmony with the ELN delegation,” said Rueda, who announced that a “first cycle” of negotiations would end in mid-December. without giving more details.

“We look forward to the process that is taking place today. It is undoubtedly an important step to achieve peace”, the guarantor countries pointed out in a statement, read by the representative of Norway.

In a speech before a demonstration of supporters in Caracas, the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, celebrated the resumption of negotiations.

“These negotiations are a message of hope for a Latin America, for a Caribbean, a territory of peace,” said Maduro, who together with Petro this year resumed diplomatic relations between Caracas and Bogotá, broken since 2019. “The time has come to peace!” exclaimed the socialist president, addressing Petro and the Colombians. “Count on us for total peace!”

Source: Ambito

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