Conflicts & War

Colombia recognizes ELN’s political status at end of 2nd round of peace talks

Mexico City, Mar 10 (EFE).- The second round of peace talks between Colombia’s government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) ended here Friday with Bogota’s recognition of that leftist guerrilla group’s political status and an announcement of strides made toward a potential bilateral cease-fire.

In a resolution issued at the conclusion of the talks in Mexico City, leftist President Gustavo Petro’s administration said the national government recognizes the ELN as an “armed rebel organization conducting political negotiations and talks aimed at achieving solutions to the armed conflict.”

Colombian Vice President Francia Marquez was in Mexico’s capital for the final day of the second round of talks, which began in February.

“I want to tell the ELN that it’s the first time I’ve looked them in the eyes without fear,” she said, adding that Colombian women have been among the main victims of the decades-old armed conflict.

The vice president urged the parties to continue to negotiate “no matter what,” saying the “boys and girls of Colombia expect a lot from you.”

Although no agreement has yet been reached on a much-awaited bilateral cease-fire, the chief negotiators of both sides expressed cautious optimism about the results achieved to date.

“We were able to start addressing the most urgent and sensitive issues, like the cease-fire, and we also opened the doors wide to citizen and community participation,” Otty Patiño, a former member of the M-19 urban guerrilla group and the head of the Colombian government’s delegation, said.

“Today, we made progress in building an itinerary with a common vision of peace,” Patiño said.

For his part, ELN chief negotiator Pablo Beltran said “the first steps (were taken) to achieve a bilateral, national and temporary cease-fire.”

“We all need to change to achieve comprehensive and lasting peace. We all need to participate in its design and realization,” Beltran said during the closing ceremony at the Colegio de San Ildefonso cultural center in the Mexican capital’s downtown.

The accords reached in Mexico also include mechanisms for “societal participation in peace-building efforts,” as well as an agreement to “examine, from a democratic perspective, the economic model, political system and the doctrines that impede unity and national reconciliation.”

The two sides also reached agreement on a point whose objective is the “recognition of all victims” based on “the assumption of responsibility arising from the truth of all women and men.”

The next round of peace talks are to be held in Cuba, although no precise start date has been announced.

Peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the ELN were launched in 2016 under then-President Juan Manuel Santos, whose administration had reached a historic peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group that same year.

But right-wing President Ivan Duque suspended the talks with the ELN in January 2019, after the rebels carried out a car bombing at a police academy that killed more than a score of cadets.

The negotiations were then resumed on Nov. 22, 2022, in Venezuela by Petro, a former M-19 guerrilla and Colombia’s first-ever leftist head of state.

Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Norway and Brazil are serving as guarantors for the peace talks, while Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and Spain are accompanying the process. EFE


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