On Monday night, the ELN delegation arrived in Bogota for peace talks with the National Government. The delegation, headed by Pablo Beltran, chief negotiator, along with Bernardo Tellez and Aureliano Carbonell, arrived on a flight from Havana, where the latest cycle of dialogues with the government took place.
Grand Civic-Social Act at Corferias
In the capital, the establishment of a National Participation Committee is expected, aiming to involve civil society players in the dialogue process. The event, scheduled for Thursday, will be attended by the country’s president, Gustavo Petro, and will focus on finding diverse paths to achieve final peace, after the debates and agreements pursued by both parties.
The National Participation Committee consists of 80 people, representing 30 entities from social and economic sectors. The aim has been to ensure plural participation, representative of Colombian society.
The committee’s work plan envisages three phases: the first to establish participation mechanisms; the second, a phase of diagnosis and dialogue of proposals; and a third phase to negotiate policies and a comprehensive plan of transformations with projects. According to sources from the ELN delegation, the committee is expected to function during 2024 and part of 2025.
Start of Bilateral Ceasefire
This week, the ceasefire agreed upon by the parties at the dialogue table will begin. The agreement will last for 180 days and is one of the most evident achievements of the government’s efforts in dialogue with the ELN guerrillas. The order has already been given by the commander-in-chief of the Central Command of the armed organization, alias Antonio García.
Disagreements about the Continuity of Kidnappings
Despite the cessation of armed activities, kidnappings for extortion purposes will not cease. In statements to CM&, Pablo Beltrán stated that these actions “were left out” of what was agreed upon in Havana. The chief representative of the guerrillas in the dialogue clarified that kidnappings will not stop until “the ELN has economic support for the entire structure” while negotiations continue. “We will seek a solution; we have been talking with the international community to see how, during the ceasefire, there is support for the ELN to stop these actions,” said the guerrilla leader.
On the other hand, Danilo Rueda, High Commissioner for Peace, explained that the crime of kidnapping is expressly prohibited by International Humanitarian Law. Rueda affirmed that “any deprivation of freedom, kidnapping, or retention of any citizen in Colombian territory by the ELN will not only be condemned, but we will activate all mechanisms for their prompt release.”