NewsLatin Americathe agreements of the ELN and the Government of Colombia in Caracas

    the agreements of the ELN and the Government of Colombia in Caracas

    The Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) concluded this Monday, September 4, their fourth round of talks in Caracas, Venezuela, focusing on “critical areas” affected by the armed conflict, where they will carry out humanitarian actions. They also reached a partial agreement on the care of political prisoners and members of the ELN in prisons. The next stage will take place in Mexico in search of peace in a country marked by decades of conflict.

    The Government of Colombia and the guerrilla the National Liberation Army (ELN) completed the fourth round of talks that took place in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. Negotiations that led to the agreement of “critical zones”, those most affected by the armed conflict, and in which humanitarian actions will be carried out and civil society will seek to be involved.

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    “We have given emphasis to some critical areas,” said the guerrilla’s chief negotiator, alias ‘Pablo Beltran’, at the closing ceremony of the negotiations. And he added: “It is where there have been the most attacks against the communities and we are trying to honor a criterion that has been imposed at this table, which is what is being agreed upon, is being implemented.”

    Furthermore, according to a statement issued by the parties, the actions carried out in said areas aim to promote the “bilateral, national and temporary ceasefire” and promote “the participation of communities, peoples and other social, economic forces and policies in these territories”.

    The text does not specify what or what type of steps will be taken in those regions. However, it does indicate the places where they will be carried out: Bajo Calima and San Juan, towns in the department of Valle del Cauca, as well as Sur de Bolivar (Bolivar) and Bajo Cauca (Antioquia). Other areas could be considered critical in the future.

    The new cycle of negotiations had begun on August 14, then both parties had indicated that the pillar would be civil society. “We want to propose to the other delegation that we move forward so that this cycle is the cycle of the people, the people who live in the territories most affected by abandonment and violence,” the Colombian Government’s chief negotiator, Otty Patino, had stated then. . The agreements signed this Monday seem to take a step in that direction.

    Political prisoners and inmates, a “partial” agreement

    The statement issued from Caracas also indicates that a “partial” agreement was reached on the care of people considered political prisoners and also for members of the ELN who are in the country’s prisons. These places are now considered “critical areas.”

    In that sense, the parties committed to developing “concrete mechanisms to care for political prisoners and people deprived of liberty recognized as members of the ELN, held in prisons and detention centers in the country.”

    The points agreed upon in the new cycle of negotiations were well received by the Colombian delegation. “We reached new agreements that bring us much closer to the peace desired by all,” said Patino.

    Representatives of the Colombian Government and the ELN agreed to bring humanitarian aid to “critical areas” affected by the conflict. © Rayner Pena R / EFE

    The current negotiations have a large group of guarantor countries made up of Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico and Norway. In addition, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain are accompanying the negotiations.

    This Monday, the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, praised the process carried out in his country. The president assured that the agreements signed so far “have demonstrated the serious commitment of the parties to the long-awaited peace in Colombia, which President Gustavo Petro has put so much effort into achieving.”

    Ceasefire: what happened?

    The great particularity of the dialogues in Venezuela is that they began within the framework of an unprecedented ceasefire that the parties had reached in June in Havana, headquarters of the previous negotiating table. This is valid for six months – the longest ever agreed – and is also being supervised by the UN.

    “In less than these nine months, we have managed to agree on a ceasefire whose nature should lead us to the end of the armed conflict in Colombia and not simply to the humanization of barbarism,” said Patino in Caracas.

    The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, and the commander of the National Liberation Army (ELN) of Colombia, Antonio Garcia, shake hands while the president of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, applauds, during the announcement of the bilateral ceasefire for 6 months in Havana, Cuba, on June 9, 2023.

    The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, and the commander of the National Liberation Army (ELN) of Colombia, Antonio Garcia, shake hands while the president of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, applauds, during the announcement of the bilateral ceasefire for 6 months in Havana, Cuba, on June 9, 2023. © Presidency of Colombia via Reuters

    However, the ELN’s perception is different. According to Beltran, the agreement has been “under fire.” “There has been a very intense media campaign by the major media and communications companies seeking to place obstacles in this process,” he added.

    In addition to said persecution to which he referred, he pointed out that the communities that try to develop a “social oversight” have been victims of “inclement attacks” and that they respond “to sectors that are happy with the structural crisis that the country is experiencing and do not want that there be changes towards democratization”.

    The ELN chief negotiator emphasized the need to protect the ceasefire as a key basis for the dialogues to continue. The next cycle will take place in Mexico, but the dates have not yet been specified.

    The ELN is the longest active guerrilla in the country, after the FARC laid down their weapons following the Peace Agreement they reached with the Colombian State in 2016. Therefore, achieving the disarmament of the armed group would be a huge step towards the bet of the President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, to bring peace to the country after a conflict that has lasted for more than six decades.

    In parallel, Petro, the country’s first left-wing president, has sought to dialogue with FARC dissidents, with urban groups and even with paramilitary groups.

    Nine dead in clashes between the ELN and FARC dissidents

    Although the president intends to advance negotiations with various groups, the conflict in Colombia is diverse and the multiplicity of actors involved makes the situation even more difficult. Proof of this are the constant clashes that have been taking place between the ELN and the FARC dissidents (who took up arms again after the 2016 Agreements).

    According to the governor of Arauca, Wilinton Rodriguez Benavides, nine bodies were found “that have yet to be identified” and “will be recovered by the group of collective homicides, which are moving towards the area with the support of the Colombian Air Force.”

    In addition, he assured that five injured people have been identified, including a 14-year-old minor who belonged to the U’wa indigenous people. “This fact is attributed to the ELN and the FARC dissidents, today the Central General Staff of the FARC,” stated the governor.

    The victims reveal a confrontation that, according to EFE, the representative of the town of Puerto Rendon, Oscar Vanegas, began on August 30.

    Arauca is one of the territories where the ELN has the greatest presence and is a strategic point as it is on the border and has little state presence. Some reasons that explain why it is being disputed by FARC dissidents.

    With EFE and AFP

    Source: France 24

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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