Colombian government and rebels agree to restart peace process
By James Blears
The two sides met in Venezuela, following on from an earlier meeting in Cuba. They will publically announce when the process will begin again, at the start of next month. The most likely venue would be Cuba.
It would be ironic if peace negotiations successfully concluded on Cuban territory, because The National Liberation Army, better known as the ELN was founded there in 1964, the same year as the establishment of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC. The FARC signed a peace agreement with the Colombian Government in 2016 and has since evolved into a political party. But the ELN have continued their armed struggle until now.
Talks with the ELN were suspended by the previous Administration in 2019, after the ELN planted and detonated a car bomb at a Police Cadet Academy in Bogota, killing more than twenty students. Their current armed strength is estimated at between 1,300 and 4,000. They`ve kidnapped and attacked oil installations. However, they`ve recently released some army and police hostages as a sign of goodwill.
New President of Colombia Gustavo Petro who was once an M19 guerrilla, says he wants to bring this more than half-century conflict to a peaceful conclusion. The opportunity to accomplish it is now gaining momentum.