On September 18, the Colombian National Government’s High Commissioner for Peace met with representatives of dissidents from the demobilized FARC-EP guerrillas to assess the possibility of engaging in dialogues to achieve “total peace” in the country. (Photo: Gustavo Petro/Twitter)
On Sunday, September 18, the High Commissioner for Peace of the Colombian National Government, Iván Danilo Rueda, met with representatives of dissidents from the demobilized guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). The meeting took place in the department of Caquetá, and was also attended by representatives of the Norwegian government and the UN Mission II in Colombia. The objective of the meeting was to assess the possibility of initiating dialogues to advance the objectives of President Gustavo Petro’s “total peace” policy.
According to a statement issued by the Colombian authorities, “both parties have expressed their will and their need that these dialogues be fixed by a bilateral ceasefire, the execution of which will be verified (in the near future)”.
During the meeting, High Commissioner Danilo Rueda explained to the FARC dissidents the details of total peace, its constitutional, legal and territorial framework, and the criteria of trust for the success of the process.
The dissident group said that for them total peace means “the eradication of the causes that generate social and armed conflict”. The group hailed Petro’s intentions and efforts to achieve peace and announced that it would consult with all its structures regarding peace negotiations.
The two sides agreed to issue a joint statement on a bilateral ceasefire and to start a dialogue in the presence of neutral third parties as guarantors of the process.
President Petro, via Twitter, confirmed that his government had reopened peace talks with FARC dissidents. He posted two photos, in which High Commissioner Danilo Rueda was seen talking with four dissident fighters, captioning the photos with “a dialogue has begun”.
Iván Márquez and Hernán Darío Velásquez are the main leaders of the FARC dissidents. These two are the commanders who return to armed struggle in August 2019, following the breach of the 2016 Havana Peace Accords by the government of former conservative President Iván Duque.
During his election campaign, Petro pledged to fight violence and build peace. After his inauguration on August 7, he reiterated his government’s commitment to achieving full peace. In this regard, he pledged to fully respect the 2016 peace accords, resume peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) and start negotiating peace agreements with all paramilitary groups and illegal drug dealers willing to submit to justice.
In his last month and a half in office, Petro has taken important steps towards achieving these goals. On August 8, the Head of State announced the resumption of negotiations with the ELN. On August 11, a Colombian government delegation, led by Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva Durán, visited Cuba establish contact with the ELN leadership in order to move towards peace negotiations. On August 20, President Petro suspended arrest and extradition warrants for ELN members to advance this dialogue. At the same time, he confirmed the return of the negotiation protocols with the ELN that had been signed with the government of former President Juan Manuel Santos.
In addition, on August 20, the government of Petro spear the first unified command post for life (PMU) in the municipality of Caldono, in the department of Cauca. The PMU aims to achieve total peace and protect the population affected by the violence across the country, in particular social leaders, human rights activists, environmentalists and former FARC demobilized guerrilla fighters. .