Thursday, December 01, 2022

Colombia: Petro appoints ex-guerrilla as interlocutor with ELN

BOGOTA ( Associated Press) – Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro has appointed a former guerrilla member to the government team that will hold talks with the National Liberation Army guerrilla, with whom peace talks are set to resume in the coming days after more than three years of suspension. Will be

The man in charge is Otti Patino, who belonged to the defunct M-19 guerrilla, the same one of which Petro was a member during his youth. He accepted a peace process in 1990 in which he renounced militancy and founded a political party. Some former guerrillas were murdered and others became mayors, governors, senators and writers.

Petro did not elaborate to the press who would be the other members of the team negotiating with the ELN, however, names such as left-wing senators Ivan Cepeda and María José Pizarro have cropped up in local media.

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Cepeda has sided with the government in previous reconciliations with the guerrillas and has been present at joint statements. While Pizarro is the daughter of former M-19 top commander Carlos Pizarro Leóngomez, who was assassinated in 1990 when he was a legitimate candidate for the country’s presidency.

On the part of ELN, the main negotiators have not been disclosed, but Petro assured a few days ago that the team has already been formed.

The ELN was born in 1964 as an anti-imperialist political project inspired by the Cuban Revolution and in its years of confrontation with the state it has sat several times to negotiate without success.

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Petro’s government—the first from the left in Colombia—wants to restart peace talks with the ELN that began in 2017 when Juan Manuel Santos ruled (2010–2018), first in Quito and then in Havana, where The men were leaders of the rebellion for several years.

Talks broke down in 2018 with the coming to power of conservative President Ivan Duque (2018–2022), who conditioned the talks by demanding that the guerrillas cease terrorist activities and that they be all abducted. In January 2019, the door to talks was definitively closed when the ELN activated explosives at a police school in Bogotá, killing 22 people.

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