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Seven great advancements of the peace process with ELN

After the fourth cycle of peace conversations between the Colombian government and the insurgent guerilla group this past December 1st in Quito (Ecuador), the activities of the delegations have been closed for the year with minor advancements, although this does not imply they are not significant and hope to keep the process alive which has been loaded with uncertainties and many difficulties.

These resignations should not be perceived as a symptom of a crisis but as a result of the dynamics and personal (family and professional) interests which are natural in these types of processes and are also an opportunity to carry out the necessary adjustments to the delegations as well as providing a lifeline to the Conversation Table to produce more and greater dynamics.

Certainly, tensions between the parties have existed and will continue to exist, which are the natural expression of the interests in play and although difficult as they may seem, they should have the commitment of the delegations in order to overcome them.

During the confrontation process and the bilateral cease of fire there have been several very concerning incidents, including:

  • Slaying of indigenous governor Aulio Isarama Forastero, on October 24th past.
  • Disappearance of John Eriberto Isarama Forastero by the ELN Western War Front.
  • Assassination of nine peasants during protests due to forced eradication in Tumaco.
  • Death of indigenous spokesperson Efigenia Vázquez in Kokonuco, Cauca.
  • Attacks of military forces to ELN campsites.
  • The Magüí Payán massacre.

Even so, these actions have been appropriately accepted and treated with political will and serenity, allowing the peace table to continue conversations and for the bilateral ceasefire to continue.

Clearly, the assessment of the conversation process between the government and ELN is positive, with at least seven great advancements during the conversations and agreements achieved until now:

One: There is a peace talk agenda which is the result of a long 4-year exploratory process and the fundamental basis of the dialogue. This agenda has specific and determinant interconnection features of the issues which will help the process to develop quickly, if they have the will and audacity to carry it forward, thus overwhelmingly innovating the procedures.

Two: There is an open and bilateral public peace talk table which is currently in place in Quito (Ecuador), with ample and solidary international support from a “group of supporting and cooperating countries” including Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, besides guarantor countries including Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Norway, Venezuela and of course, Ecuador.

Added to the support from different sectors of the Colombian society which have visited the peace table to disclose their standpoints and help build the process, as well as the valuable participation of the Catholic church and other religious congregations.

Three: A bilateral temporary and national ceasefire was established between the administration and the ELN which establishes a trust relationship which also has oversight and verification provided by the United Nations Security Council, an organism which has played an important role to increase national credibility to the process. The bilateral ceasefire is a prerequisite for civil society participation and the development of the agenda.

Four: There have been 10 public sessions in order to produce inputs that will allow establishing social participation methods of the agenda and which are also an important indicator of what this participation could be.

Five: They have approached and determined the pathways for humanitarian treatment of the most urgent conflict situations, such as:

  • Stop all crimes against social and political leaders including human rights advocates.
  • Recognize the responsibilities – by act or omission– of the government and public forces in the development if said crimes.
  • Recognize the responsibilities of the ELN in the slaying of Department of Chocó leaders and the humanitarian crisis produced by the confrontation of illegal armed groups and the commitment to produce a humanitarian solution.
  • Impel pilot humanitarian demining projects in the Provinces of Chocó and Nariño, as gestures of peace.
  • Provide humanitarian treatment and warrant fundamental as well as human rights of political prisoners overcoming repressive institutional practices.

Regarding the humanitarian aspect, the government vows to:

  • Publish the upcoming bill to streamline and strengthen an Early Alert System.
  • Develop a comprehensive system to improve the humanitarian condition of ELN imprisoned members.
  • Propel enforcement of Law 1820 of 2016 (Amnesty Law) and Decree 277 of 2017, in reference to the decriminalization of protests.
  • Verify that normal flow of provisions and drugs to isolated communities.

All these are significant aspects of the process which should lead to real actions.

Six: It has produced Peace ManagementProcess from ELN which currently has two members of the organization: Eduardo Martínez and Juan Carlos Cuéllar, who will carry out interesting education and institutional social work in different territories which will be very useful for the process as it entails progress of the organization towards social, political and institutional life.

Seven: They have been building, in a solidary and natural manner a social, intellectual and political base, which is an important support for the process and which can play an essential part in different moments of the process.

As a balance of the results up to now, it can be said that although not all has resulted as planned, there have been significant advancements which constitute the initial patrimony of the process which may prove to be successful, as the path is not at all easy to conquer.

The ELN is observing the difficulties of the implementation the peace agreement with FARC through a rearview mirror and is already analyzing the wear and tear of the government of current President Juan Manuel Santos and the difficult electoral campaigns of the months ahead.

Several decades ago, liberal leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, slain by bipartisan violence said: “The impossible is not the most difficult seen through the eyes of those born without faith and hope is dead”, therefore this process need much faith and much hope.


Consejo Editorial