The Colombian government and the South American country’s largest remaining guerrilla group resumed peace talks on Monday, breaking a four-year hiatus during which the rebels have expanded the territory where they operate.
Venezuela, whose government resumed diplomatic relations with Colombia only a few months ago, hosted the representatives of the National Liberation Army and the government of Colombian President Gustavo Petro.
The discussions in Caracas are more than a month after the rebels and Petro’s government announced the resumption of negotiations.
The delegates in a joint declaration said that they had gathered to restart political dialogue “with full political and ethical will, as demanded by the people of rural and urban territories that suffer from violence and exclusion, and other sectors of society.”
They added that they are willing to “build peace based on a democracy with justice.”
The National Liberation Army, commonly referred to by its Spanish acronym, ELN, was founded in the 1960s by students, union leaders and priests inspired by Cuba’s revolution. The group is believed to have about 4,000 fighters in Colombia and is also present in Venezuela, where it runs illegal gold mines and drug trafficking routes.
The organization became Colombia’s largest remaining guerrilla group after a 2016 peace agreement disbanded the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC.
Since the deal was signed, the ELN has increased its activities in territories formerly under FARC control.
The group is known for staging kidnappings for ransom and attacks on oil infrastructure, and has been listed as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU.
Previous negotiations, some going back to the 1990s, have failed.
Petro — a former rebel himself — is resuming the negotiations as part of a larger peace effort in which his administration is approaching armed groups, drug gangs and FARC dissidents.
This is a significant reversal of strategy.
Former Colombian president Ivan Duque suspended talks with the ELN after the rebels refused to stop attacking military targets.
Israel Ramirez Pineda, an ELN leader, said in a statement that the group in this negotiating effort aims to produce “fundamental changes” as demanded by the Colombian people during massive demonstrations last year and in polls this year by electing Petro.
“Colombians cannot see each other as enemies, the work we have is reconciliation,” Ramirez Pineda said. “We hope that the government’s delegation will have an interlocutor in the same sense.”
Over a few hours under gray skies, dozens of combat planes and helicopters roar on and off the flight deck of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, in a demonstration of US military power in some of the world’s most hotly contested waters. MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and F/A-18 Hornet jets bearing pilot call signs such as “Fozzie Bear,” “Pig Sweat” and “Bongoo” emit deafening screams as they land in the drizzle on the Nimitz, which is leading a carrier strike group that entered the South China Sea two weeks ago. US Rear Admiral Christopher Sweeney, who is commanding the group, said the tour
RISING RISK: With no communication between nations flying jets closely over the South China Sea, one mistake by a pilot could quickly escalate a situation, an expert said The China Coast Guard (CCG) maintained near-daily patrols at key features across the disputed South China Sea last year, ramping up its presence as tensions over the waterway with Southeast Asian neighbors remain high, new tracking data shows. Patrols in the waters surrounding the Vanguard Bank off Vietnam, an area known for its oil and gas reserves and the site of repeated standoffs between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels, more than doubled to 310 days last year, the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said. The number of days Chinese ships patrolled near Second Thomas Shoal (Renai Shoal, 仁愛暗) in the Spratly Islands (Nansha
A court in Thailand sentenced a 27-year-old political activist to 28 years in prison on Thursday for posting messages on Facebook that it said defamed the country’s monarchy, while two young women charged with the same offense continued a hunger strike after being hospitalized. The court in the northern province of Chiang Rai found that Mongkhon Thirakot contravened the lese majeste law in 14 of 27 posts for which he was arrested in August last year. The law covers the king, queen and heirs, and any regent. The lese majeste law carries a prison term of three to 15 years per incident for
‘DISTURBING’: Nearly half of 16 to 21-year-olds assumed that girls either ‘expect’ or ‘enjoy’ sex which involves physical aggression, such as airway restriction One in 10 children have watched pornography by the time they are nine years old, according to “disturbing” new research by the children’s commissioner for England. The report found that one-quarter of pupils in their final year of primary school had already been exposed. It also showed much of the material being consumed by children and young people featured violence. Four out of five (79 percent) of those surveyed had seen pornography involving violence by the age of 18, while one in three young people have actively sought out depictions of sexual violence such as physical aggression, coercion and degradation. The report, by