Delegations from the Colombian government and the ELN (National Liberation Army) guerrilla group set up this Monday (14) the 4th cycle of peace dialogues in Caracas, capital of Venezuela, one of the mediating countries in the process.
This is the first time that both parties return to negotiations right after a ceasefire agreement that was signed in Havana, Cuba, in the last round of talks and entered into force on August 3rd.
During the act that marked the installation of the new negotiation cycle, the head of the Colombian government delegation, Otty Patiño, stated that one of the main topics will be “concrete plans for the heads of the ELN war fronts and the communities in the territories ( affected by the conflict) participate (in the process)”.
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“We took advantage of the will of the national leadership of the ELN and its Central Command to commit all the commanders and combatants of that organization to the construction of peace”, he said.
The head of the ELN delegation, Pablo Beltrán, said he hoped that the agreements reached in Caracas “be fulfilled” and that the group would strive to strengthen the citizen participation commission that was formed in Bogotá as foreseen by the last round of negotiations.
“A process of citizen participation is important. The forces of the government and the ELN are few for the changes that must be made in Colombia, so we ask that Colombian society participate in this process, because peace will not be the product of a government or a insurgency, it will be from Colombian society,” he said.
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The Venezuelan vice-president, Delcy Rodríguez, also participated in the opening of the dialogues and reinforced Venezuela’s appeals as a guarantor country for the creation of humanitarian corridors for victims of the armed conflict.
“We want to emphasize (the importance) that humanitarian relief measures can be adapted to assist those affected by the conflict, so that they become an immediate humanitarian objective,” he said.
The beginning of the 4th cycle of dialogues is another step in the “total peace” plan promoted by the government of Colombian President Gustavo Petro, which intends not only to establish peace agreements with guerrilla groups such as the ELN, but also with factions linked to drug trafficking. However, despite some advances achieved, the representative has been facing internal obstacles that threaten the progress of the process.
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In addition to the serious political crisis faced by his government, which has already suffered threats of a coup, changes of ministers due to accusations of corruption and pressure from the Public Ministry, the levels of armed violence in the interior of the country are still very high.
According to data from Indepaz (Institute of Studies for Development and Peace), 105 social leaders have already been murdered in the country since the beginning of the year. The deaths are linked to actions by armed groups in the regions that victimize social representatives of communities that seek to defend their territories.
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho