Today, Monday, August 14th, the fourth cycle of peace talks between Colombia and the ELN guerrilla began in Caracas. Amid the bilateral ceasefire agreed upon by both parties for 180 days, the National Participation Committee was established in Bogotá a week ago. Today, the discussions resume in the neighboring country with the aim of advancing the recently signed agreements.
Back in Venezuela
The talks resume in Venezuela, after this new phase began on November 21st, following the determination of the new Colombian government to achieve peace. It’s worth recalling that President Duque’s government suspended the talks after the ELN’s brutal attack on the Bogotá police academy in January 2019.
Delcy Rodríguez, the Venezuelan Vice President, stated during the welcoming ceremony that her country fully supports “the Total Peace policy of the Gustavo Petro government”. Furthermore, the Venezuelan leader urged that those who are “enemies of peace” be kept away from the dialogue between the Colombian government and the ELN.
Regarding support for the Total Peace project, Rodríguez stated that Venezuela, as the guarantor country of the talks, hopes that they “can pave the way for lasting peace that the people can embrace as their own.” For Venezuela, it’s an “urgent task” that these dialogues translate into “humanitarian relief” in regions most affected by the armed conflict.
Attention to Victims and Social Involvement
“This cycle must allow for substantial agreements that revolve around those who have suffered from the armed conflict for decades,” said Monsignor Darío Monsalve, the spokesperson for the guarantors and observers in the talks. In his speech today in Caracas, the former Archbishop of Cali urged both parties to continue honoring the agreements reached.
Pablo Beltrán, the head of the ELN delegation, said, “There’s a conviction to achieve a political solution to the conflict. At this table, what’s signed gets implemented. We are now at a point of implementing a bilateral ceasefire.” Beltrán added, “The other commitment is the involvement of society in the process.”
The Most Critical Moment
The talks between the Colombian government and the ELN are going through one of their most critical phases. Last week, news emerged about the alleged attempt by this organization to attack the nation’s Attorney General, Francisco Barbosa. Sources from the ELN’s peace delegation were quick to deny the news, but the incident is still under investigation. At that time, the guerrilla leaders accused Attorney General Barbosa of sabotaging the peace process with false information.
In recent days, a heated controversy unfolded between Attorney General Barbosa and peace delegation members of the government. The Attorney General found Otty Patiño, the head of the government’s delegation in the talks, unclear in his statements. The reaction of Danilo Ruega, the High Commissioner for Peace in the Petro government, was also not to the Attorney General’s liking.
In any case, the information about this incident was provided by the prosecutor’s office. It is currently under review by the Monitoring and Verification Committee, which was established to verify compliance with the ongoing ceasefire.