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Published On: Mon, Sep 4th, 2017

ELN optimistic about bilateral ceasefire before papal visit to Colombia

nsnbc : Pablo Beltran from Colombia’s leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) expressed optimism about a bilateral ceasefire between the Colombian government and the guerrilla before the papal visit this month.

Pablo Beltran in Quito Ecuador, during the official launch of peace talks in February 2017.

Pablo Beltran in Quito Ecuador, during the official launch of peace talks in February 2017.

In an interview with El Espectador Pablo Beltran said before the arrival of Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, there will most likely be a joint announcement on the ceasefire.

Talks about the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire announcement during the papal visit have been on the table since July 2017. In August the ELN declared its readiness to declare a unilateral ceasefire during the papal visit if necessary.

The ELN is an undogmatic Marxist guerrilla, in part syndicalist in its structure, inspired by the Cuban revolution as well as liberation theology. Beltran said:

“We will agree on the terms of what is suspended. On one hand offensive operations and other modalities, and there will be monitoring that will work on alerts and prevention. That is the structure we will have during the cessation. … Each party takes note of the largest humanitarian emergencies and each one will try to respond to these emergencies. This cessation will have a national element, offensive operations (to be suspended) and humanitarian relief for the people. That is the commitment we assume, both the ELN and the government.”

Beltran didn’t go into details, but it is expected that he means both the government and the military will cease offensive operations, that there will me mechanisms put in place to attempt to prevent confrontations between the military and the ELN and that both the ELN and the State will respond to eventual other situations, for example attacks by right-wing paramilitaries, as well as other “humanitarian crisis” if and when necessary.

The administration of President Juan Manual Santos and the ELN have been negotiating a peace accord since February 2017 after the parties, in March 2016, in the Venezuelan capital Caracas, signed an agreement on the terms and modalities of the peace talks. Peace talks should have started in May 2016 already but were delayed several times.

CH/L – nsnbc 04.09.2017

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