Colombia’s high commissioner for peace resigns amid crisis

Bogotá, May 22 (EFE).- Colombia’s high commissioner for peace, Miguel Ceballos, reported Saturday he has presented his resignation to President Iván Duque, coming amid the country’s social crisis and ongoing street protests.

Ceballos has been a part of the talks that the government has been holding for more than a week with the National Strike Committee, the main convenor of the demonstrations that have been clouded by violence and vandalism, as well as in dialog with different political, academic, religious and business sectors.

“I wish to express to you that for personal reasons, following the calls of my conscience and in fulfillment of the responsibilities that my soul has chosen, I irrevocably resign from my position as High Commissioner for Peace, as of May 26,” read the letter sent to Duque on May 3.

Although he alleges personal reasons, the resignation of the high commissioner occurs in the midst of one of the greatest crises that the government has faced due to the protests that began on Apr. 28 against the social and economic policies of the Duque administration.

President Duque has not confirmed whether the resignation of Ceballos has been accepted.

Among his main tasks assumed since August 2018, Ceballos was at the forefront of the government’s attempts to approach the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) to try to reactivate the peace talks that had been suspended for two years.

This task is halfway there, as on May 9, Ceballos announced that the government continues to seek conditions to reactivate the dialog, without the armed group having shown a real will for peace or progress in complying with the conditions imposed so far by Duque.

Upon assuming the presidency, on Aug. 7, 2018, Duque conditioned the continuity of the peace talks upon the group stopping kidnappings and the release of people it holds in captivity, which the guerrillas refuse to abide by.

Ceballos launched “an indirect space of approach and exploration” with the ELN with which 28 meetings were held, 22 of them at the headquarters of the Apostolic Nunciature in Bogotá and six at the government headquarters, as well as four trips to Havana where the leaders of the group have remained for two years, when the talks stalled.

Since the beginning of the social crisis derived from the demonstrations, which initially began against a government tax reform, Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla and Foreign Minister Claudia Blum have also resigned, and Duque replaced his Minister of Culture Felipe Buitrago Friday. EFE


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