The peace agreements have been one of the most controversial points for Colombia in recent years. While former president Iván Duque turned his back on them, the new president, the leftist Gustavo Petro, has shown his support with this mechanism.
Petro, who was a member of the M-19 guerrilla, has expressed his interest in agreeing on a “total peace” with all the armed groups operating in Colombia.
Not only that, but he is in talks to restart peace talks with Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN).
This is what we know about how the peace accords will be handled in Colombia during the government of Gustavo Petro.
A “complete peace”
Since his election on June 19, Petro has expressed his interest in reaching a “total peace” with the groups that remained in arms after the dissolution of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and its transformation into a political party.
During his inauguration last Sunday, Petro asked all armed groups to lay down their weapons and accept legal benefits in exchange for peace, thus putting an end to decades of violence in the South American country.
“Peace is possible if we unleash social dialogue in all the regions of Colombia, to meet in the midst of differences, to express ourselves and be heard, to search through reason for common paths of coexistence,” said the president. in his inaugural speech.
“We also call on all the armed to lay down their weapons in the nebulae of the past. To accept legal benefits in exchange for peace, in exchange for the definitive non-repetition of violence, to work as owners of a prosperous but legal economy. to put an end to the backwardness of the regions,” he added.
The most powerful front of the FARC dissidents proposed a bilateral ceasefire to find a “political solution” to the conflict, according to a letter released at the end of July,
In the document, the guerrillas who were marginalized from the 2016 peace agreement propose to create, “in common agreement” with the incoming government, a “climate conducive to a bilateral ceasefire agreement.”
The agreement would make it possible to find “a political solution to the violence,” according to the rebels.
The letter, dated July 31, was released this Wednesday by various media along with a video in which some 18 men and women dressed in camouflage and with rifles appear.
The peace agreements with the FARC
With the dissidents of the FARC, he intends to implement the 2016 peace agreement that allowed the demobilization of some 13,000 combatants, while seeking legal alternatives for the criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking who would receive benefits such as reduced sentences in exchange for reporting routes.
The internal armed conflict has left at least 450,000 dead, most of them civilians, between 1985 and 2018 alone.
The president proposes to support the operation of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and the Search Unit for the Disappeared Population (UBPD), two mechanisms that emerged from the 2016 peace agreements.
In addition, the president will promote a rural reform, which will aim to make the countryside more productive. Some of the proposed measures are raising taxes on unproductive land, demanding profitable projects or that they be purchased by the State to distribute them in productive sectors without land.
The creation of an agrarian jurisdiction specialized in conflicts over agricultural property is also contemplated.
Resume negotiations with the ELN
Emerged in 1964 in light of the Cold War, the National Liberation Army (ELN) agreed to negotiate with the government of Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos, first in Quito and then in Cuba, the site of the agreement that led to the disarmament of the then guerrilla group. of the FARC in 2017.
However, the government of Iván Duque interrupted the talks in 2019 after the car bomb attack on a police cadet school in Bogotá, which left 22 dead, in addition to the aggressor.
Petro now seeks to resume peace talks with this military group.
On Monday, in a meeting with the president of Chile, Gabriel Boric, he announced that this South American country will be one of the guarantors of the agreements reached with the ELN.
“We have expressed our full willingness to continue collaborating in the terms that the Colombian government deems most useful to its cause,” Boric said at a press conference.
For now, he added, “that is limited (…) to being one of the guarantor countries of the process to the extent that this that was left in suspensive points is resumed.”
In addition to Chile, Brazil, Cuba, Norway and Venezuela have served as guarantors of the negotiation that the ELN and the new Colombian government are now preparing to take up again.
“Today we would have to ask all those governments if they want, if they want to continue being guarantors of the process that is restarted,” Petro said on Monday.
At the moment there is no date for the parties to sit down to talk.
The Colombian president added that it is also pending to define if Havana will host the negotiations again.
In this regard, he mentioned that Cuba had been affected “very much” by Duque’s decision to disregard the protocols that provided that in the event that the dialogue failed, the rebel negotiators would have guarantees to return to Colombian territory.
On the contrary, he unsuccessfully demanded that the Cuban authorities hand over the delegates to prosecute them for terrorism, which deteriorated relations between the two countries.
“We will know in the weeks to come if these talks continue in Cuba,” Petro said.
After the breakdown of the talks, the ELN increased its foot force from 1,800 to 2,500 combatants and collaborators, according to official estimates.