The administration of Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez is committed to prioritizing peace and mitigating the devastating setbacks the processes suffered under Ivan Duque.
During the first press conference to local media after being sworn in as president, Gustavo Petro confirmed the official resumption of negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN), the largest guerrilla group active in the country. “We want to revitalize the protocols and in the next few weeks it will be announced if we will maintain the dialogues in Cuba. It does not only depend on us, but on who wants to negotiate,” said the Head of State on Monday August 8.
Peace dialogues between the Colombian executive and the ELN began in Havana, with the participation of other countries as guarantors of peace, including Chile, Venezuela, Norway and Brazil itself. Negotiations were halted in 2018 by former President Iván Duque, whose four years in power were among the most violent in the country’s history.
Now, in addition to Cuba, the Chilean government has also offered to host the dialogues. “We express our desire to continue to collaborate in the terms that the Colombian government considers most useful to its cause”, declared the newly elected Gabriel Boric during his visit to Bogotá for the presidential inauguration. The other options would be Ecuador, Mexico and Norway.
The first talks between ELN representatives and the government of Juan Manuel Santos in 2017 took place in Quito and then in Havana.
During the elections, the largest active guerrilla group in Colombia, with a presence in 200 municipalities, announced a unilateral ceasefire as a demonstration of its interest in dialogue. Following the victory of the Historic Pact in early July, ELN Commander Eliécer Herlinto Chamorro, known as “Antonio García”, issued a statement reiterating his willingness to resume negotiations with the new government “so that their results bring peace with social justice for all”. Columbia “.
The ELN, created in 1964 under the inspiration of the Cuban revolution and liberation theology, is the last insurgent group to carry out national action in Colombia after the 2016 peace accords. It is present in two hundred municipalities, with approximately 2,300 members, with the highest concentration in the departments of Arauca, Cauca, Chocó, Nariño, Catatumbo and Antioquia, according to the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (Pares).
In an interview in August this year, four years after the dialogues broke down, Commander Antonio García said that the ELN has never imposed conditions, “it is understood that all issues can be discussed or examined at a table, if peace is truly desired.”
On his accession to the presidency last Sunday, August 7, Gustavo Petro once again reiterated his commitment to “total peace” in Colombia.
This article was first published in Portuguese on Fato’s Brazil.