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The Government of Gustavo Petro and the FARC guerrilla dissidents had an “exploratory meeting” to “assess the possibility of starting dialogues”, which could include a bilateral ceasefire. This is one of the “total peace” strategies, an initiative by President Petro to negotiate with the illegal groups that are still active in Colombia.
A delegation from the Government of Colombia and another from the “central staff” of the FARC dissidents met in the department of Caquetá, located in the south of the country, in order to analyze a possible start of peace talks with dissidents from the FARC. FARC that did not accept the Havana agreement in 2016.
Through a statement signed by the High Commissioner for Peace, Danilo Rueda, the number two of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, Raúl Rosende, four dissidents and a delegate from the Government of Norway, the parties claimed to be “ready and need for these dialogues to be set by a bilateral ceasefire, the execution of which must be verified”.
“A central issue is the response of the Government in total peace to the substantial binding citizen demands and the rights that must be guaranteed to transition to the Social and Environmental State of Law,” the joint statement added.
“Total peace” is the ambitious proposal of President Gustavo Petro, with which he seeks to start dialogues and seek agreements for demobilization or delivery to justice with groups outside the law of various types that operate in the country.
According to a recent report by the Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Indepaz), 20 groups currently hope to benefit from Petro’s peace project.
Among those interested are traditional guerrillas such as the National Liberation Army (ELN), dissidents of the former FARC guerrillas, such as the Second Marquetalia, led by Iván Márquez, who abandoned the process, and also organized crime groups dedicated to drug trafficking, such as Los Caparros, Los Costeños, Los Pachelly and Los Shotas.
“The Petro government has shown that it is risking all the political capital it has to promote what it has called total peace. Those dissident groups must enter there,” said Daniela Garzón of the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation in an interview for France 24.
The agreement seeks that those who take part in the process are not subjected to ordinary justice, but rather that a special entity be created, as was done at the time with the FARC.
The central staff of the dissidents said that for groups outside the law, “total peace” means “the eradication of the causes that generate social and armed conflict” and asked that the first step be an official declaration, together with a “bilateral ceasefire agreed by the parties, thus avoiding more pain in the Colombian family”.
Despite Gustavo Petro’s intentions to seek peace, in July of this year the largest number of attacks on the security forces in Colombia in the last 20 years was recorded, registering 90 attacks in a single month, as reported by the Resource Center for Conflict Analysis (Cerac).
A few days ago, the Petro passed to Congress the modifications of the Public Order Law in order to have a roadmap to advance the negotiations. So far, the ELN has expressed its intentions to hold peace talks.
On August 20, the Colombian president announced the suspension of the arrest and extradition orders against the ELN guerrilla negotiators, who have been in Cuba for several years, without progress of any kind in the negotiation.
The purpose is to resume the peace talks with said group, which were previously suspended in 2018, when Iván Duque took office as president. In pursuit of this objective, Gustavo Petro has designated Venezuela as the guarantor country in the eventual negotiation that opens with the ELN and Nicolás Maduro accepted the proposal.
With the suspension of the arrest warrants, Petro assured that he is seeking to “try to build the path, hopefully quickly and expeditiously, where this organization ceases to be an insurgent guerrilla in Colombia.”
With EFE and local media
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