Colombian government, guerrilla group resume peace talks

Nov 20, 2022, 9:14 PM | Updated: Nov 21, 2022, 3:43 pm
Delegations representing the Colombian guerrilla National Liberation Army (ELN), left side of table...

Delegations representing the Colombian guerrilla National Liberation Army (ELN), left side of table, and the Colombian government sit together to restart peace talks after a suspension of more that three years, at the hotel Humboldt in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday Nov. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/ Ariana Cubillos)

(AP Photo/ Ariana Cubillos)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Colombian government and the South American country’s largest remaining guerrilla group resumed peace talks Monday, breaking a roughly four-year hiatus during which the rebels have expanded the territory where they operate.

Neighboring Venezuela, whose government resumed diplomatic relations with Colombia only a few months ago, hosted the representatives of the National Liberation Army and the government of President Gustavo Petro. The discussions in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, came more than a month after the rebels and Petro’s government announced the resumption of negotiations.

The delegates in a joint declaration stated they had gathered to restart political dialogue “with full political and ethical will, as demanded by the people of rural and urban territories that suffer from violence and exclusion, and other sectors of society.” They added that they are willing to “build peace based on a democracy with justice.”

The National Liberation Army, commonly referred to by its Spanish acronym ELN, was founded in the 1960s by students, union leaders and priests inspired by Cuba’s revolution. The group is believed to have about 4,000 fighters in Colombia, and is also present in Venezuela, where it runs illegal gold mines and drug trafficking routes.

The organization became Colombia’s largest remaining guerrilla group after a 2016 peace agreement disbanded the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC. Since the historic deal was signed, the ELN has increased its activities in territories formerly under FARC control.

The group is known for staging kidnappings for ransom and attacks on oil infrastructure and has been listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

Diplomats from Venezuela, Cuba and Norway will assist in the negotiations, while representatives from Chile and Spain will observe it. Previous negotiations, some going back to the 1990s, have failed.

Petro — Colombia’s first leftist president and a former rebel himself — is resuming the negotiations as part of a larger peace effort in which his administration is approaching armed groups, drug gangs and FARC dissidents. This is a significant reversal of strategy; his predecessor, President Iván Duque, suspended talks with the ELN after the rebels refused to stop attacking military targets.

Israel Ramírez Pineda, an ELN leader, in a statement said the group in this negotiating effort aims to produce “fundamental changes” as demanded by the Colombian people during massive demonstrations in 2021 and in polls this year by electing Petro, leaving behind the tradition of conservative and moderate governments.

“Colombians cannot see each other as enemies, the work we have is reconciliation,” Ramírez Pineda said. “We hope that the government’s delegation will have an interlocutor in the same sense.”

He added that the rebels hope the United States takes a “proactive and supportive attitude” to the dialogues. The U.S. for decades has supported Colombia’s armed forces.

The delegation representing Colombia’s government is headed by Otty Patiño, co-founder of the extinct M-19 guerrilla group of which Petro was a member in his youth.

Colombia’s high commissioner for peace, Danilo Rueda, said the steps taken Monday honor the lives of those who were murdered, disappeared, tortured or kidnapped due to the violence across the country.

“This peace delegation… has carried out an exercise to recognize differences,” Rueda said. Although it is yet to be determined whether rebels will eventually be granted amnesty, Rueda said that “nothing is based on impunity.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A flyer seeking information about the killings of four University of Idaho students who were found ...
Rebecca Boone, Associated Press

Victims’ families urge love, kindness as Idaho campus mourns

As hundreds of students mourned together inside the University of Idaho’s stadium Wednesday night, family members of four slain classmates urged them to raise their eyes from grief and focus on love and the future.
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Doctors alarmed as surge in RSV cases fills German hospitals

BERLIN (AP) — Intensive care doctors in Germany warned Thursday that hospital pediatric units in the country are stretched to breaking point in part due to rising cases of respiratory infections among infants. The intensive care association DIVI said the seasonal surge in respiratory syncytial virus cases and a shortage of nurses was causing a […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Poland says Kandinsky art sold in Germany comes from theft

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s culture authorities said Thursday a picture by Wassily Kandinsky that was auctioned in Germany for almost 390,000 euros ($404,000) belongs to Poland, where it was stolen in 1984. The authorities are threatening legal steps. Kandinsky’s 1928 watercolor “Untitled” was sold Thursday at the Grisebach auctioneers in Berlin. The price tag […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Aline Kominsky-Crumb, underground cartoonist, dies at 74

Aline Kominsky-Crumb, an American cartoonist known for her feminist themes and often brutally frank, highly personal and self-critical work, has died at the age of 74. Kominsky-Crumb, who was a close collaborator of her cartoonist husband, Robert Crumb, died of cancer Tuesday at their longtime home in France, said Alexander Wood, manager of the website […]
2 days ago
FILE - A large homeless encampment is shown in Phoenix, Aug. 5, 2020. On Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, ...
Associated Press

ACLU sues city of Phoenix to stop sweeps of homeless camp

PHOENIX (AP) — The ACLU of Arizona says it is suing the city of Phoenix in order to block resumed sweeps of a huge homeless encampment downtown that they say has displaced people and destroyed identification documents, prescription medications and other belongings. The ACLU says it filed the complaint late Wednesday in the U.S. District […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Mexico minimum wage up to $10.5 per day, but inflation hits

Mexico declared a 20% increase in the country’s daily minimum wage Thursday. Starting next year, the basic minimum wage will be 207 pesos, or about $10.50, for an eight-hour day. That’s up from the current level of 172 pesos, or about $8.80 per day. Stubbornly high inflation, however, is expected to eat into that increase. […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSPA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Colombian government, guerrilla group resume peace talks