MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) – National Liberation Army guerrillas and the Colombian government began a second round of talks in Mexico City on Monday in a renewed effort to end nearly six decades of conflict.
At this stage, the parties must define as their central axis the participation of Colombian civil society in the process and the possibilities of agreeing on a bilateral ceasefire. The ELN, founded in 1964, has a presence in more than 200 municipalities in Colombia, with a block structure that answers to a central command.
The ceasefire became a nerve-wracking point in the talks as the government struck it in January without the consent of the ELN, triggering a crisis. inside the table. The parties met in an extraordinary manner in Caracas to resolve the incident.
Ivan Cepeda, a member of the government’s peace delegation, assured The Associated Press that they would report on other pending issues such as the agenda of the talks and how the agreements in the first round have been followed, before discussing the ceasefire and engagement. , as a “humanitarian caravan” that visited conflict zones to listen to the population in order to analyze how to reduce violence.
This is the sixth time the ELN has sat down to hold talks with the government to seek a political solution to the conflict. The current process began in 2017 during the government of Juan Manuel Santos (2010–2018), first in Quito and later in Havana. However, the Round Table Conference was suspended for more than three years in 2019 after the ELN bombed a police school, killing 22 people.
Dialogue to be resumed in November 2022Gustavo Petro came to power, the first left-leaning president in Colombia and a member of the extinct M-19 guerrilla in his youth.
The new phase of negotiations has travel destinations between countries that guarantee the process. The first cycle took place in Caracas and the second was planned in Mexico City. The dialogue is supported by Norway, Chile, Cuba and Brazil as guarantors along with the United Nations and the Episcopal Conference of Colombia.
The conversation has not happened without debate. The ELN has publicly questioned “total pacification”, a policy through which the government seeks a simultaneous rapprochement with several armed groups. and drug gangs.
Eliezer Chamorro, alias “Antonio García” and top commander of the ELN, has demanded a different treatment from so-called “organized armed groups” and Otti Patino, head of the government delegation, responded in statements to the press on the basis of illegal actors. There are different treatments of “perfect peace” and the ELN has always had a “political character”.
Andres Macias, a conflict and peace researcher at the University of Externado de Colombia, explained to the Associated Press that the ELN as a group had a political interest in “at least fundamentally” changing the way the state should function. Does not place it on the same level as other armed actors such as the Clan del Golfo, considered the most dangerous cartel in the country in recent years.
The difference is that Petro has said that he will not negotiate politically with drug traffickers, but will have to submit them to justice.