Caracas, Sept 4 (EFE).- The delegations of the Colombian government and the guerrilla group National Liberation Army (ELN) concluded the fourth cycle of peace negotiations in Caracas on Monday, approving humanitarian actions for two “crisis zones” where the local population has been “seriously affected” by the conflict.
In a joint declaration, the parties stated that they would carry out “humanitarian actions” “that promote a bilateral, national and temporary ceasefire, the participation of local communities, peoples and other social, economic and political forces in these areas”, without specifying the details.
Likewise, Gustavo Petro’s government and the guerrillas intend to “carry out social development projects (…) in the coming months”.
The regions chosen were the area of the Calima and San Juan rivers in the central Pacific region of Colombia (Valle del Cauca department) and the area of the lower Cauca river and the San Lucas mountain range in the central part of the country (Antioquia and Bolivar departments).
Violence has been reported in these areas in recent weeks, despite the bilateral ceasefire that took effect on August 3 and that will last until February 2024.
The parties may define new “humanitarian zones” if necessary, after analyzing the circumstances of other territories.
Senator Iván Cepeda, one of the negotiators representing the government, anticipated that already agreed upon issues, such as “the participation of society in the construction of peace” and the cessation of hostilities, would be put into practice in these zones.
Cepeda said that the agreement seeks a “very active” participation of communities and entrepreneurs in these places, in what the negotiators called “social participation and the construction of the great national agreement”.
The two sides concluded this fourth round a week after the ELN released a 21-year-old soldier who had been kidnapped on August 20 in a rural area of Colombia’s Arauca department (in the country’s eastern border with Venezuela) who had been accused by the guerrillas of violating the bilateral ceasefire. EFE