| 7 December 2023, Thursday |

Colombia, ELN rebels agree to work toward cease-fire

A faction of Colombia’s FARC rebels, known as the Estado Mayor Central (EMC) group, stated on Sunday that they are prepared to commence peace negotiations with the government in the coming month. While the government has not yet confirmed the talks, this announcement could potentially bolster leftist President Gustavo Petro’s pursuit of achieving “total peace.”

Since the start of April, EMC leaders have held meetings to finalize pathways to the negotiations with the government.

“We announce before the whole world that our delegates to the dialogue table with the Colombian state, headed by the national government, are already ready for May 16 of this year,” spokesperson for the armed group, Angela Izquierdo, said at the meeting.

The EMC is one of two breakaway factions of the FARC and is made up of former leaders and fighters who rejected a 2016 peace deal.

The other dissident faction is the Segunda Marquetalia, which took up arms again in 2019.

Top EMC commander Ivan Mordisco said Sunday that “we can begin to build the road map that will allow Colombia to eradicate the causes of the conflict.”

Mordisco also called on the rival National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group “to end the war between our two organizations.”
In 2016, a landmark peace deal led to the dissolution of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which was the most dreaded guerilla group in Latin America. However, some dissidents, which comprise the EMC group now, rejected the peace agreement which required them to surrender their arms.

Despite the pact being in place since 2016, left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and traffickers have been fighting for control over drugs and illegal mining.

President Petro, a former rebel from the group M-19, had committed to ending decades of armed conflict by signing peace agreements with rebel groups and by implementing the pact with FARC.

  • DW