Colombia: ceasefire agreement signed with ELN in Havana
It's a magical day " said Colombian President Gustavo Petro. The government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the last guerrilla still active in the South American country, signed Friday in Havana a six-month ceasefire agreement extended to the entire national territory. And soon after, we learned that the children lost in the jungle had been found alive.
Havana, Cuba, June 9, 2023: A ceasefire agreement was signed between the Colombian government and ELN guerrillas. Pictured from left to right: Colombian President Gustavo Petro, Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel and the first guerrilla commander ELN Antonio Garcia. AFP - YAMIL LAGE
Text by: RFI Follow
The agreement for a "bilateral national and temporary ceasefire" was signed in the Cuban capital in the presence of Colombian President Gustavo Petro and ELN leader Antonio Garcia, AFP reports. "Here a new world is born, here ends a phase of armed insurrection in Latin America with its myths and realities," Petro said. This is a "procedural" agreement, tempered Antonio Garcia, first commander of the ELN. "This peace process has to be different, we have to see changes... We have not yet signed any substantial agreements... (but) procedural agreements".
🔴 #EnDirecto | Ceremonia de clausura del tercer ciclo de la Mesa de Diálogos de Paz con el ELN.
— Presidencia Colombia 🇨🇴 (@infopresidencia) June 9, 2023 The presence of the guerrilla leader in Havana had not been announced, but an arrest warrant issued against him had been suspended a few days ago by the Colombian prosecutor's office, ultimately allowing his visit to the Cuban capital.
After a preparatory phase, the ceasefire agreement is expected to enter into force on 3 August. "From this date the 180 days of validity will be counted," said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, reading the various points of the Cuban Agreements.
Under the impetus of Gustavo Petro, Colombia's first left-wing president and himself a former guerrilla, the Colombian government has been negotiating since the end of 2022 with the ELN, the last guerrilla group still active in the country. The talks began in November in Caracas, where an initial agreement was reached on indigenous peoples, before continuing in March in Mexico City.
>> READ ALSO: Colombia: the ELN recognized as a "rebel armed political organization" by the Petro government
The death of nine Colombian soldiers at the end of March in an ELN ambush had however raised doubts about the continuation of the negotiations. They finally resumed for a third cycle on May 2 in Havana.
In addition to the ELN, President Petro has been trying to negotiate for several months with dissidents from the ex-FARC, paramilitary groups and criminal groups. During his campaign, he promised his country "total peace".
>> READ ALSO: Colombia: is the total peace of President Petro possible?
Announcing the signing of the agreement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres congratulated both sides. These are "important steps that give hope to the Colombian people," Mr. Guterres said. The ELN, a guerrilla group created in 1964 under the inspiration of the Cuban revolution, had 5,850 fighters in 2022, according to the authorities. It held talks with five governments without success.
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