The delegation of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the peace dialogues announced this Thursday (11) that the dialogue table with the Colombian government is “frozen”. The meeting was scheduled to take place in Caracas from the 12th. The two parties will hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the developments in the negotiations.

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In a statement, the ELN said that the “government’s persistence” in carrying out operations to demobilize the guerrilla group in Nariño state was responsible for the pause in talks. According to the group, the government acted on two fronts during the month of March: on the one hand, it negotiated officially and, on the other, it tried to dismantle ELN operations in Nariño.

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The group claims that it had already warned the government about these acts after the February 26th meeting held in Havana and that the continuation of these operations would put the negotiations in question.

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The government delegation issued a note stating that “it is necessary not to waste time”. According to the document, representatives of the Colombian state are in Caracas to debate and consider that it is necessary to concentrate work to “advance in peace processes”. In the statement, the government recognizes the “serious situation” in the states of Arauca, Chocó and Nariño, but states that it is necessary to “address fundamental issues” such as victims’ rights.

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Despite extending the ceasefire until August after the February meeting in Cuba, the government’s actions in Nariño have been criticized by the ELN and the two parties have shown differences in negotiations in recent months. The government decided in March to open regional dialogues for peace. The armed group stated that the government is disrespecting the ceasefire agreements reached at the negotiating tables following negotiations “outside the national process” in the State of Nariño.

Official peace negotiations involve the ELN, the United Nations (UN) and the Colombian Episcopal Conference. As a result, the group even announced the freezing of peace negotiations with the government and said that the process was in an “open crisis”.

The Colombian government even announced the creation of a Region of Peace in the State, which was refuted by the ELN. The head of the group, Antonio García, denied that this dialogue had taken place and said that the government’s objective is “to create a show with an alleged demobilization, to show a split ELN”.

The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, was in Caracas this week for a meeting with the head of state of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. After the meeting, Petro said that Venezuela could help the country in building an “armed peace” and stated that Venezuelans have already helped Colombia a lot to resolve conflicts with armed groups in previous governments and that the idea, now, is to reinforce this cooperation.

“Venezuela can help us a lot and has done so for many years in governments prior to mine, on the issue of armed conflicts. Successful in the government of [Juan Manuel] Santos and that we have to build now in our governments”, said Petro.

Editing: Lucas Estanislau


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