Bogota and the ELN guerrillas announce the resumption of negotiations

The Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas and the Colombian government will resume peace negotiations suspended in 2019 in November, the parties announced on Tuesday (October 4th) in a joint statement.

Re-establishment of the dialogue process (will resume) after the first week of November», Indicates the communiqué read at the end of a meeting in Caracas between the representatives of the parties. “When will we resume? The release says so: after the first week of November” in “rotating placesbetween the guarantor countries, Venezuela, Cuba and Norway, Antonio Garcia, commander of the ELN, then told the press.

“Total Peace” Plan

Guevarist-inspired, the ELN is the last constituted guerrilla group still active in Colombia, while the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a peace agreement in 2016. ELN representatives had been for four years in Cuba where the previous round of negotiations was held, suspended in 2019 by the former Colombian president, the conservative Iván Duque, after an attack against a police school which left 22 dead, in addition to the assailant.

After being under international arrest warrants, they were able to leave the Caribbean island on Sunday as part of new peace negotiations promised by the new Colombian President Gustavo Petro. Invested in August, Gustavo Petro, the first left-wing president and a former guerrilla himself, is working on a plan to “total peacewhich must put an end to all violence in his country after more than 50 years of incessant fighting.

Suspension of FARC attacks

In particular, he affirmed his desire to negotiate with the ELN but also with the dissidents of the ex-FARC who reject the 2016 peace agreement, as well as to discuss with the drug trafficking gangs their surrender to justice. The largest splinter faction of the FARC announced at the end of September the suspension of its attacks against the security forces in order to achieve a bilateral ceasefire.

According to the authorities, the ELN currently has some 2,500 members, compared to around 1,800 at the time of the negotiations. It is mainly present in the Pacific region and on the border with Venezuela, 2200 kilometers long. Since Gustavo Petro came to power, Colombia and Venezuela have resumed diplomatic relations that had been severed since 2019 following Iván Duque’s decision not to recognize the re-election of Nicolás Maduro as head of Venezuela in disputed elections.

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