Colombian government and rebels agree to restart peace process

Colombian government officials and National Liberation Army guerrillas met and agreed to relaunch the peace process, abandoned three years ago.

By James Blaars

The two sides met in Venezuela, following an earlier meeting in Cuba. They will publicly announce when the process will begin again, early next month. The most likely place would be Cuba.

It would be ironic if the peace negotiations ended up on Cuban territory, because the National Liberation Army, better known as the ELN, was founded there in 1964, the same year as the creation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. , the FARC. The FARC signed a peace accord with the Colombian government in 2016 and has since become a political party. But the ELN has continued its armed struggle so far.

Talks with the ELN were suspended by the previous administration in 2019, after the ELN planted and detonated a car bomb at a police cadet academy in Bogota, killing more than twenty students. Their current armed force is estimated at between 1,300 and 4,000. They have kidnapped and attacked oil installations. However, they recently released army and police hostages as a show of goodwill.

The new Colombian president Gustavo Petro, who was once an M19 guerrilla, says he wants to bring this conflict of more than half a century to a successful conclusion. The opportunity to accomplish it now grows.

Listen to the report by James Blears

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