Colombian government and ELN resume peace negotiations

Havana (BLAZETRENDS).- The Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) announced the resumption of peace negotiations after the “pause” requested by the guerrillas on Monday following statements by the country’s president, Gustavo Petro.

The negotiating delegations of both parties reported in a joint statement that they were making this decision “after having made an initial exchange of clarifications” and after reaffirming “the political nature” of the dialogue table and of the ELN “as an armed rebel organization.”

“We reiterate our commitment to achieve bilateral and national ceasefire agreements in this cycle, participation of society in the construction of peace, and humanitarian actions and dynamics,” the government and ELN negotiators signed.

Archive photograph of the peace dialogue between the Colombian government and the ELN. BLAZETRENDS/ Rayner Peña R

The joint communiqué, dated in Havana -where the third cycle of negotiations is taking place-, also ratifies the “signature decision” of both parties to “remain at the table until a peace agreement is reached with the transformations that the country needs.”

“We will continue to develop a joint vision of the conflict and the solutions that the country requires,” indicated the delegations, who advanced that “immediately” they intend to articulate the Mexico Agreement, reached this March, as well as “the set of agreements that will be have done at the table with the visions and proposals” of Petro.

Third crisis on the table

On Monday, the ELN declared the third cycle of peace talks with the Colombian government to be on “pause” after the “crisis” that, in its opinion, Petro’s words generated last Friday in a meeting with senior officials from the Armed Forces.

In them, the president questioned the leadership of the ELN commanders and considered that the main objective of the guerrillas at this time are “illicit economies.”

The commander of the National Liberation Army (ELN), Pablo Beltrán, in a file image. BLAZETRENDS/Isaac Esquivel

The ELN’s chief negotiator, Israel Ramírez, alias Pablo Beltrán, demanded clarification as a result: “If the table is saying one thing and the president says another, we are left in the middle and what we are asking for is an explanation.”

The High Commissioner for Peace, Iván Danilo Rueda, and the government negotiating delegation reiterated on Tuesday that “the Colombian government once again recognizes the ELN’s political nature as a rebel armed organization.”

They recalled that the recognition of the ELN as a political entity was reflected in the “institutional architecture” of the dialogue table, which so far has adopted “nine political agreements”, among which the Mexico Agreement stands out.

There is also a presidential resolution, 036, which recognizes that the negotiations are “of a political nature”, they indicated.

General photograph of the delegations of the Government of Colombia and the guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN) that formally began the third cycle of peace talks, today, in Havana (Cuba).  BLAZETRENDS/Ernesto Mastrascusa
General photograph of the delegations of the Government of Colombia and the guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN), in a file image. BLAZETRENDS/Ernesto Mastrascusa

The delegation also highlighted the progress achieved in recent months, in which “consensus” has been built between the negotiating teams at a rate that had not been previously possible, and advocated for further progress.

This is the third time that the table has entered into crisis. The first bump was suffered just after the government announced on December 31 a bilateral ceasefire that had not been agreed upon and that the ELN was quick to deny.

The second clash occurred as a result of the attack last March where the guerrillas killed 10 soldiers in an ambush in the department of Norte de Santander against soldiers of the Special Energy and Road Battalion No. 10.

Cuba, one of the guarantor countries of the process, formally hosted the peace negotiations on May 2 after the two previous cycles, held in Venezuela (November) and Mexico (March). This cycle was expected to last around a month.

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