Colombian guerrilla ELN called on everyone to build peace
Colombia’s government and the country’s last recognized guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), said Friday they had agreed to begin negotiating a ceasefire, as the two sides wrapped up a second round of peace talks in Mexico.
The goal is to reach an accord based on international humanitarian law, according to an agreement read by a member of the government delegation in the presence of both parties.
Pablo Beltran, an ELN veteran, said that “the first steps have been taken to reach a ceasefire.”
A truce was the desire of “the entire Colombian nation,” government negotiator Otty Patino said.
“We have heard that cry, and we feel that the ELN delegation has also heard it,” he added.
Colombia has suffered more than half a century of armed conflict between the state and various groups of left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries, and drug traffickers.
The Colombian government resumed peace talks with the ELN after Gustavo Petro became the South American country’s first ever left-wing president in August.
The talks had been suspended by his conservative predecessor Ivan Duque following a car bomb attack on a police academy in Bogota that left 22 people dead.
The next round of talks is due to be held in Cuba, though a date has not yet been announced.
Havana was the venue for the negotiations that culminated in the demobilization in 2016 of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which for years was the country’s largest guerrilla group.