The Gustavo Petro government in Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) — one of the country’s few remaining guerrilla groups — announced the resumption of peace talks after a three-year pause. Negotiations with the Colombian state will restart in the first week of November, with Cuba, Venezuela, and Norway acting as arbiters.
From Caracas, the peace dialogues officially resumed between our government and the ELN, together with the guaranteeing countries of Venezuela, Cuba and Norway. pic.twitter.com/FVZnyKJ8IX
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) October 4, 2022
Talks between the armed group and the government in Bogotá began during the 2010-2018 administration of Juan Manuel Santos, a center-right leader who also pushed for deals with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other guerrilla groups. However, negotiations stalled under the government of Mr. Santos’s successor and right-wing figurehead Iván Duque.
After left-wing rebels organized the bombing of a Bogotá police academy in January 2019, killing 22, talks were officially suspended.
Mr. Petro is the first left-wing president in Colombia’s history and was once a member of the nationalist left 19th of April Movement (M-19).
He has placed significant importance on demobilizing armed groups and normalizing Colombia’s relations with the political left, part of a larger agenda of pacification. Last month, Colombia and Venezuela summarized bilateral relations, with the two sides looking to curb border violence.
Founded in 1964, the ELN is listed as a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union, and has grown in importance since a peace agreement between the FARC and the Colombian state in 2016. The US estimates that the ELN has around 3,000 combatants, half of them situated in Venezuela.