Dove Magazine

Colombia – Venezuela crisis delayed peace talks between Santos’ gov’t, ELN

The Colombian government’s border crisis with Venezuela delayed the start of formal peace talks between Bogota and the National Liberation Army, or ELN, guerrilla group, a source close to the process said Thursday.

Uruguayan President Tabare Ramon Vazquez (R) listens as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks at the Carondelet Palace in Quito, September 21, 2015. Mediated by Ecuadorian and Uruguayan leaders, Maduro normalized relations with Colombia following weeks of tension along the country’s shared border. At the same time, however, Venezuelan troops present near its eastern border are making neighboring Guyana uncomfortable. REUTERS/Guillermo Granja

Uruguayan President Tabare Ramon Vazquez (R) listens as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks at the Carondelet Palace in Quito, September 21, 2015. Mediated by Ecuadorian and Uruguayan leaders, Maduro normalized relations with Colombia following weeks of tension along the country’s shared border. At the same time, however, Venezuelan troops present near its eastern border are making neighboring Guyana uncomfortable. REUTERS/Guillermo Granja

Leon Valencia, the head of the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation, a former ELN guerrilla and an expert on Colombia’s armed conflict, told EFE Thursday that the crisis had caused a postponement of “a few days,” but he expressed confidence that the talks would kick off in the coming weeks.

ELN and Colombian government representatives “had agreed on an agenda, on a methodology for the negotiations, and in the last meeting, I understand, they had established that once (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro and Santos met they would sit down to agree on a date for (the start of formal) negotiations” between the two sides, he said.

The Venezuelan and Colombian leaders sat down face-to-face on Monday in Quito for a meeting backed by the Union of South American Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

In the talks, they agreed on the immediate return of the countries’ respective ambassadors, who had earlier been recalled amid the border spat.

The two presidents also arranged for ministerial meetings to be held to normalize the situation on the 2,219-kilometer (1,379-mile) frontier, much of which has been gradually closed over the past several weeks by order of Maduro, who has defended the measure as part of the fight against paramilitary activity and smuggling.

Hundreds of Colombian citizens living in Venezuela were deported as part of the crackdown and thousands more left voluntarily.

Colombia’s government and the ELN have been engaged since January 2014 in “exploratory conversations” about starting a peace process similar to the one Bogota has been pursuing with the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, for nearly three years in Cuba.

The contacts between Santos’ administration and the ELN, however, have taken place in neighboring Ecuador.

The ELN’s top leader, Nicolas Rodriguez Bautista, alias “Gabino,” said on Sept. 9 that only “3 percent” of the agenda for the talks remains to be agreed upon before formal peace talks can begin.

Valencia, for his part, said the major breakthrough this week by the Colombian government and the FARC on transitional justice for conflict-related crimes – regarded by many analysts as the thorniest issue of the peace talks – would “pave the way for agreements with the ELN.”

Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, a.k.a. “Timochenko,” shook hands on Wednesday in Havana in a ceremony attended by Cuban President Raul Castro and set a six-month deadline for inking a final peace deal.

Valencia said the justice accord, which includes the creation of special courts to hear alleged crimes committed by FARC rebels and government forces, as well as reparations for victims, was also significant for the ELN guerrillas.

He said they could adhere to that part of the talks as well and consider one of the aspects of their future peace negotiations to be resolved, thus expediting the process.


SRC: EFE and FOXNEWS

Recommended For You.

FILE - A policeman sits atop a minibus carrying empty ballot boxes to a central counting center in Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa.
FILE - A policeman sits atop a minibus carrying empty ballot boxes to a central counting center in Democratic Republic

Related Articles:

Togo court confirms Faure Gnassingbe's poll win
Tanzania ex-PM becomes opposition presidential candidate
Fighting Erupts at Burkina Faso Hotel Hosting Crisis Talks
VSO suspends South African project after deaths of two Britons
South Africans Protest Against Reckless Driving
Burundi Criticizes European Union Sanctions
UN Peacekeepers Killed in Mali Ambush Attack
Senegal Court to Deliver Verdict in Habré Case

Leave a Reply

Advertisement

Developed by Amitabha Technology, Inc.