On January 17, a car bomb attack occurred at the General Francisco de Paula Santander Police Cadet School, causing the loss of 21 human lives and 68 injuries.
Given this situation, the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, sent a message to the President of the Republic of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, expressing our condolences to the government and people of Colombia, in particular to the families of victims of the attack, and reaffirming that Cuba rejects and condemns terrorist acts, methods, and practices in all their forms and expressions. Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla issued a similar message via his official Twitter account, and a press note was released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Friday, January 18, the President of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, publically reported his decision to end the peace talks process between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which had been taking place in Havana, Cuba, by activating orders to arrest members of this guerrilla organization’s peace delegation, which makes the holding of peace negotiations impossible.
As a consequence, faced with the rupture of the peace talks, what is indicated is the implementation of the document entitled “Established Protocol in Case of Rupture of the Colombia-ELN Peace Talks Negotiations,” which establishes, “If the peace talks are broken off, the countries and parties will have 15 days following the announcement to plan and conduct the return to Colombia of members of the delegation representing the ELN.”
In this context, Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs appeals to the government of Colombia and the ELN to take pertinent action to allow implementation of “the procedure for the return of the ELN delegation,” in accordance with the text of said protocol.
Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that, in accordance with our responsibility as Alternate Site and Guarantor of this peace process, a verbal note has been sent to Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recalling the commitments assumed by the Colombian government and the ELN, and it has sent a copy of this note to other guarantor countries.
Cuba has honored the commitments it assumed as Guarantor and Alternate Site of the peace talks between the Colombian government and the ELN, at the request of both. Cuba assumed this responsibility as a gesture of good will in an effort to avoid that this process end in frustration, as established in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the heads of state and government of our region.
Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to report that the presence of the ELN delegation in our country, as well as the holding of two cycles of the peace talks negotiating table, between the government of Colombia and the ELN, came in response to an official request on the part of both parties, under the auspices of the “Colombia Peace Talks Accord between the National Government and the National Liberation Army,” signed March 30, 2016, in Caracas, by the parties and six guarantor countries.
Said agreement establishes that, “The negotiation sessions will take place in
Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, and Cuba. These countries, along with Norway, will be guarantors.” Thus our country was awarded the category of Guarantor and Alternate Site of the peace negotiations process.
Beginning February 7, 2017, through April of 2018, the peace talks were held in Ecuador. However, on May 4, 2018, Cuba received a joint request from the Colombian government and the ELN, stating, “With the idea of resuming the dialogue immediately, we request that the Republic of Cuba become the site for what remains of this fifth cycle.” In this same communication, both parties indicate, “We are ready to travel as soon as possible. In principle, we are thinking of resuming the conversations, with the presence of guarantor countries, this coming May 8.” Cuba responded very promptly, and the talks were resumed May 10, of that same year.
Since then, the ELN peace delegation has remained on the island, with the government of President Duque, according to the press media, deciding on November 21, 2018, to maintain the hold on arrest orders for the ten who were in Cuba awaiting the resumption of negotiations, which was revoked this past January 19.
Cuban authorities expressly established, as a condition of the ELN delegation’s presence here, that its members solely and strictly keep to the exclusive purpose of their presence in Cuba: negotiating peace in Colombia. This was confirmed by Pablo Beltrán, head of the ELN peace delegation in Cuba, during interviews with press media in Havana, this past January 22.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates that Cuba has never permitted, and will never permit, that its territory be used for the organization of terrorist acts against any state, and reaffirms Cuba’s historic position against terrorism and against war, in defense of peace, with the authority of having been a victim of state terrorism for decades.
Our country has conducted itself in this process with the strictest respect for the consent and specific agreements reached between the Colombian government and the ELN, on the basis of official requests received from them. Cuba has acted in strict adherence to our condition as a Guarantor and Alternate Site, in an impartial, responsible, professional, and discreet manner, in the interest of a political solution to the conflict in Colombia, to achieve the peace its people longs for.
Cuba has acted the same way it did during the peace process undertaken with the FARC-EP, recognized internationally as a contribution to peace in Colombia, an agreement that the region and the international community hope to see fully respected.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba reiterates its profound conviction that the Colombian people deserve peace and will find the route to achieving it.
Havana, January 25, 2019