Colombia to restart peace talks with last remaining major rebel group
Colombian officials are restarting peace talks with the last remaining major guerrilla force in the country.
Driving the news: Last week, the government of President Gustavo Petro and leaders of the National Liberation Army (ELN) finalized an agreement to begin negotiations in November.
- Cuba, Venezuela and Norway will serve as observers and mediators.
- Petro also recently announced that nine other armed groups have agreed to ceasefires and that the government will suspend aerial bombings.
- Petro, once a rebel with the defunct M-19 guerrilla movement, says achieving “total peace” is a priority of his government.
- He’s said that will require “reconceptualizing” and reforming the armed forces, which for decades have almost exclusively been fighting rebel groups.
What they’re saying: “There’s a general optimism about the potential” from negotiations, Elizabeth Dickinson, an analyst for the nonprofit International Crisis Group, tells Axios Latino.
- “If the military doesn’t have to fight the ELN, technically they’ll have more resources to fight other groups that don’t comply [with the ceasefires]” and to fight issues like deforestation and human trafficking, she adds.
Between the lines: Prior negotiation attempts with the ELN ended in 2018, following car bombings blamed on the guerrilla forces.
- New negotiations are likely to take a long time, says Dickinson, who is based in Bogotá.
Background: Colombia’s government and the FARC, previously the largest guerrilla force, came to a historic agreement almost six years ago.
- The peace treaty has led to major investments for agriculture development in areas that were hard hit by the conflict, as well as processes to deactivate landmines, identify nameless remains and carry out special trials for war crimes.
- But there have also been setbacks. Some rebels have taken up arms again, and violence against farmworkers and activists has continued.
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