miércoles, 11 de junio de 2014

Colombia to talk peace with second guerrilla force

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed on 11 June that the state had engaged in "exploratory talks" with the National Liberation Army (ELN, Ejército de Liberación Nacional), the smaller of the country's two communist guerrilla forces, in another move to bring a negotiated end to decades of civil conflict. Mr Santos said talks with the ELN would be separate from those begun in 2012 with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but part of the same peace process, Bogotá's Radio Santa Fe reported. The talks he said would take place outside the country, without a ceasefire and without conceding them any type of free or demilitarized zone. The President said the state had decided to talk to the ELN because talks with the FARC had "entered their final phase" with agreements reached on most items being discussed. The FARC and the state were now negotiating two final areas - compensation to thousands or likely hundreds of thousands of victims of the civil war, and the mechanics of guerrilla disarmament. Mr Santos said talks with the ELN must meet the same conditions as those with the FARC, and the ELN appeared to have agreed. These included agreeing to discuss the end of the conflict, the disarmament of guerrillas, and no negotiation over the Colombian polity or its institutions. Ecuador's President Rafael Correa revealed that day that initial contacts with the ELN occurred in Ecuador about "two months" before, and offered his country as a venue for talks. He said in Guayaquil after President Santos had spoken, that Ecuador would provide "all facilities" to assist talks and "end war in Colombia," Radio Santa Fe reported. The war he said had cost Ecuador an "immense amount of resources," forcing it to deploy 10-12,000 troops to guard its frontier with Colombia and prevent infiltrations, when usually "a tenth of that" sufficed. The timing of the announcement did not go unnoticed inside Colombia, being days before the 15 June presidential election. "Announcing the start of negotiations...five days before the elections, is to keep subjecting peace to electoral abuse," the former Green presidential candidate Enrique Peñalosa wrote on Twitter.