Mexico to host next round of peace talks in Colombia
Colombia’s government and the country’s largest remaining rebel group have said they will continue to hold peace talks in Mexico, after three weeks of talks in Venezuela yielded only modest results.
Caracas, Venezuela — Colombia’s government and its largest remaining rebel group said on Monday they would continue to hold peace talks in Mexico after three weeks of talks in the Venezuelan capital yielded only modest results.
Negotiations between Colombia and the National Liberation Army, known as the ELN, were suspended in 2019 following a rebel attack on a police academy in Bogota, in which 23 people were killed. But President Gustavo Petro relaunched peace talks with the group in November, shortly after his election, and became the country’s first leftist president.
Petro said peace talks with the ELN are a cornerstone of his plan to bring “total peace” to the nation of 50 million, where some rural areas are still under the sway of gangs. drugs and rebel groups despite a 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
On Monday, delegates from the Petro government and the ELN issued a statement in which they announced that they had agreed on a plan to provide humanitarian aid to rebel fighters in Colombian prisons as well as to villages in two regions of Colombia that have been hard hit by the conflict. .
Pablo Beltran, the rebels’ chief negotiator, said he hoped a ceasefire could be agreed during the next round of peace talks, which begin in January.
The ELN has about 4,000 troops in Colombia and neighboring Venezuela, where human rights groups have reported the group operates drug trafficking routes and illegal gold mines.
The rebel group was founded in 1964 by intellectuals inspired by the Cuban revolution and was often smaller than the FARC. But in recent years the ELN has become more influential in rural pockets of Colombia that were abandoned by FARC rebels after making peace with the government.
Mexico, Norway, Venezuela, Chile and Cuba are acting as guarantor nations in the ELN peace talks.
Suarez reported from Bogota, Colombia