The Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) formalized a 180-day bilateral ceasefire on Friday, the longest that has been achieved with the guerrillas, after 35 days of intense negotiations in Havana.
The signed agreement will be “national”, “bilateral” and “temporary” and will take effect as of August 3, according to the delegations.
The ELN’s chief negotiator, Israel Ramírez, alias Pablo Beltrán, stressed that it “seeks a humanitarian purpose, to reduce the conflict so that in Colombia there is a better climate for the participation of society.”
For his part, the head of the government delegation, Otty Patiño, assured that this is a “crucial” step for the peace process.
According to the parties, the cessation contemplates a first phase of enlistment, until July 6, in which the order will be given to stop the offensives and which will become official on the third day of August. The UN and the Catholic Church will monitor compliance.
The cessation is the main result of the third cycle of peace talks in the Cuban capital that concluded this Friday.
The round, which began on May 2, came to fruition despite having suffered moments of turbulence, such as the “pause” at the table announced by the ELN after some controversial statements by the president, Gustavo Petro.
In addition, the cycle manages to culminate after two extensions, the last of them on Thursday.
The announcement – which was attended by Petro, his Cuban counterpart, Miguel Díaz-Canel, and the first commander of the ELN, Eliécer Herlinto Chamorro, alias Antonio García – is also a tank of oxygen for the Colombian president.
Petro is experiencing moments of national tension due to the scandal that arose around two former advisors from his closest circle: the former ambassador to Venezuela Armando Benedetti and the also former chief of staff of Petro Laura Sarabia.
In the same sense, the Havana agreement is somewhat political for the Cuban government, guarantor country and headquarters.
The island is listed in the US island of countries sponsoring terrorism under the excuse of having sheltered ELN leaders after the last frustrated negotiation during the presidency of the conservative Iván Duque (2018-2022), who cut off talks after a terrorist attack in the guerrillas in 2019.
“We have no regrets,” stressed the Cuban president.
GOAL: MAY 2025
During his speech this Friday, the Colombian president wanted to go further and set a date on which peace could be achieved between both parties: May 2025.
“In May 2025, the decades-long war between the ELN and the State will definitively cease,” the president alleged in the protocol room of El Laguito, the scene of peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Later, the leader of the ELN negotiating team qualified Petro’s words and assured that in May 2025 “a process with a schedule that has to do with the participation of society must end.”
In the same sense, Senator Iván Cepeda, who is part of the government delegation, reported that on that date “the agreements on the first three points of the peace agenda must be signed” and that this would give “a perspective of seeing signed peace with the ELN before the end of that year.”
The agenda to which he refers was agreed upon in the previous cycle in Mexico and includes six points: Participation of society in peace, democracy for peace, transformations for peace, victims, end of the armed conflict and execution of agreements. .
KIDNAPPING AND EXTORTION
Despite the cessation, there are still sensitive issues that remained unanswered, such as the illegal means of financing the armed group.
In statements to the press, Pablo Beltrán clarified that kidnapping and extortion are not included among the actions covered in the ceasefire.
“If they take a spoon from you, they have to give you another,” he said.
The ELN chief negotiator explained that there are 12 agreed offensive actions that will be restricted as of July 6 and that protocols contemplating financing actions should be agreed upon until August 3. EFE