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Peace Talks Between Colombia and the National Liberation Army Resume in Cuba

Peace talks between the government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) will now take place in Cuba after Ecuador pulled its support as the original host country.

[Photo: National Liberation Army (ELN) is a leftist rebel group in Columbia. Source:  Hurriyet Daily News ]

[Photo: National Liberation Army (ELN) is a leftist rebel group in Columbia. Source: Hurriyet Daily News]

In November 2016, President Juan Manuel Santos signed a peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla group, which led to the group’s integration into Colombian society.

Since the armistice, the former rebel group has transformed itself into a bona fide political party, while President Santos  won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the peace deal.

During the 2016 negotiations, Cuba served as the guarantor between Colombia and the FARC.

President Santos seeks a similar agreement with the National Liberation Army, Colombia’s last active rebel group and hopes Cuba will be able to act as an intermediary once again.

The armed conflict in Colombia has lasted for more than fifty years and has caused approximately 220,000 casualties.

The National Liberation Army, made up of approximately 1,500 soldiers, has been accused with kidnapping, extortion, drug trafficking and illegal mining. The rebel group is listed as a terrorist group by the European Union and by the U.S.

[Photo: Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos. Source:  Raul Arboleda/ BBC ]

[Photo: Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos. Source: Raul Arboleda/ BBC]

After the kidnapping and murder of three Ecuadorian journalists by members of the dissident guerilla group, Frente Oliver Sinisterra, President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador decided to suspend Ecuador’s role as host country and guarantor of the peace talks.

Ecuador has filled this role since early 2017.

“We have asked the Chancellor of Ecuador (María Fernanda Espinosa) to stop these conversations and to stop our condition as guarantor of this peace process as long as the National Liberation Army does not commit to stop carrying out these terrorist acts,” remarked President Moreno  during an interview.

As a result, the fifth cycle of peace dialogues have been moved to Havana, Cuba and will resume next week. Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Norway and Venezuela are all considered to be guarantors of the negotiation.

A declaration was given specifying the terms of the peace agreement. The peace agreement will seek to establish a cease-fire and to outline “the design of the participation of society, which promote the development of the agenda and the possibility of arriving at a Framework Agreement.”

“We have decided to continue the peace dialogues in whichever country that we choose,” commented Pablo Beltrán, the chief negotiator for the National Liberation Army, in an interview.

Beltrán went on to add, “We hope that in the time remaining in negotiations we can arrive at a new truce that must be better than the last one. Colombia can count on us that we will maintain the effort to find a political solution.”