Peace talks between the Colombian government and National Liberation Army (ELN) resumed on May 10 in Havana, as the two delegations look to negotiate a new ceasefire.
Talks between the Colombian government and ELN which began in Quito 2017, were moved to the Cuban capital after President Lenín Moreno pulled out as a guarantor to the process, following a security crisis on the border between Ecuador and Colombia.
“We recently received a joint request from both parties to resume the fifth round of Peace Talks between the Colombian government and ELN in Cuba,” stated head of the Cuban delegation, Iván Mora, on the first day of conversations.
“We do not hesitate to once again accept this responsibility,” added Mora.
“Achieving peace in Colombia has been a historic desire for the entire region,” he noted.
The Cuban diplomat went on explain that Cuba’s role as guarantor and host to the talks is consistent with the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed in Havana in January, 2014.
The two delegations thanked Cuba for hosting the talks and highlighted its commitment to the peace process in Colombia.
For four years Havana hosted peace talks between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples’ Army (FARC-EP), which ended with the signing of a peace deal currently being implemented in the country.
Head of the ELN delegation, Pablo Beltrán, described the process as “complex and difficult,” and called for the full, proper implementation of the agreement and an end to attacks on peace. “Despite various setbacks, we are aware that the only viable way for Colombia to achieve a political solution is if dialogue goes ahead,” he said.
Gustavo Bell, head of the government delegation, highlighted the need to take “concrete steps” to put an end to the armed conflict, noting that the focus of the fifth round of talks is to reach a ceasefire with the ELN, in the lead-up to the country’s elections on May 27.
The last ceasefire between the Colombian government and ELN lasted 101 days, from October 2017 through January 2018.
The ELN negotiating team meanwhile stated that this new round of talks will draw on the experiences from the last ceasefire deal, with the aim of supporting national dialogue in Colombia and fundamentally changing the conditions which led the guerillas to take up arms in the first place.