FARC-EP and ELN Delegations Meet in Cuba

Together for a political solution

In the objective of seeking a complete peace for Colombia, the National Liberation Army (ELN) –which is an insurgent organization in Colombia- and the Colombian National Government have been carrying out a peace process between the two parties for several months.

The FARC-EP, which has already concluded its Peace Process with the Colombian National Government –with the resulting Final Peace Agreement signed in November 2016 that is currently under implementation- has met with the ELN delegation in Havana in order to share experiences and knowledge with the purpose of helping out in the achievement of a successful outcome for the Peace Talks between the ELN and the National Government and in search of a complete peace for Colombia.

From the aforementioned meeting, the following public statement is made:

We have started the joint dialogue for peace.

Gathered for the purpose of joining forces for the political solution of the Colombian conflict, we find that despite the disparity between the two tables of conversations between the insurgency and the government of President Santos, we maintain common objectives, with different but complementary paths such as the search for society to have a leading role in the achievement of peace, with the force of which it will be possible to impose a non-violent way out of seven decades of confrontation, and in dissent with the elite that driven by the profit that they obtain through war persists on it.

We agree to make the rights of the victims the heart of the search for peace, so that there is full truth about these seventy years of national tragedy, allowing governments, the ruling classes and the insurgency to assume their responsibilities in order to solve the causes that generated this social, political and armed conflict.

We share that this peace process must contribute to a democratization of Colombia, in which violence is removed from political struggle in order for us all to show simultaneous commitments to the agreements, and progress to be the result of bilateral efforts within the understanding that we will reach peace through transformations that bring equity and dignity to Colombians.

We will seek for the present effort for the political solution to compromise the different forces that participate in the debate towards the 2018 elections, and we will try to avoid that those callings to the war, that the extreme right makes to not reverse this impulse for the achievement of a new country with equality.

We call on all communities to continue defending life and territory, and not to let persecution prosper, which seeks to close the way of alternative political forces that are committed to peace, social justice and the dignity of all.

We are accompanied by the certainty that the majority of Colombians conquer, above the stubbornness of the sectors of power that oppose peace, the political solution that makes progress through the peace talks table with the ELN and in the Implementation of the Havana Peace Agreements in order to begin the final defeat of violence, exclusion and the impoverishment of the national majorities.

We recognize the Colombian government’s willingness to facilitate this second meeting, which we hope to maintain as a permanent coordination and joint dialogue mechanism for peace with social justice.

We value the contribution of the international community in the search for a political solution to the Colombian conflict and to be a zone of peace in Latin America and the Caribbean. In particular, we are grateful for the contribution made by the Republic of Cuba, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Kingdom of Norway in the realization of this meeting.

Timoleón Jiménez

On behalf of the National Secretariat of the FARC

Nicolás Rodriguez Bautista

On behalf of the Central Command of the National Liberation Army (ELN)



FARC-EP and ELN join forces for peace in Colombia

ELN leader Gabina and FARC leader Timochenko shake hands during a joint press conference in Havana, Cuba, May 11, 2017.

The leadership of the two largest guerrilla organizations in Colombia held a private meeting in Havana

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The two largest Colombian guerrilla organizations met in Havana this week to discuss the peace process. Despite holding separate talks with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos, the two organizations met in order to “join forces” to help put an end to more than half a century of armed conflict in the South American nation.

“Despite the disparity between the two sets of talks between the insurgency and the government of President Santos, we maintain common goals, with different but complementary paths,” read a Joint Communiqué signed by Timoleón Jiménez, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), and Nicolás Gabino, head of the Central Command of the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Despite sharing the purpose of achieving social change in Colombia through armed struggle, the two guerrilla organizations have historically maintained their independence in terms of their command and operations, as well as differences regarding their methods of struggle and political formation.

In November 2012, the FARC-EP and the Colombian government began peace talks in the Cuban capital, which lasted nearly four years and concluded with the signing of a historic peace agreement. This was rejected in a plebiscite and then updated by the parties to be submitted for legislative approval.

The implementation of the points agreed is ongoing, while FARC-EP fighters are now grouped in Transitional Zones, where the process of disarmament and reintegration into civilian life is taking place.

However, despite the long negotiation process with the FARC-EP, peace talks with the ELN only began in February of this year, hosted by Ecuador.

According to statements made during a press conference in Havana, an atmosphere of understanding reigned during this unusual dialogue between the FARC-EP and ELN leadership, which lasted a week and was closely followed worldwide given the possible impact on the peace process.

“There were more agreements than differences,” stated Timoleón Jiménez. Meanwhile, Nicolás Gabino noted that the meeting served to assess the developments of each group and discuss how to achieve complementarity that assimilates their differences.

The Joint Communiqué details some of the points of agreement, including on the rights of victims and the need for a deepening of democracy in Colombia to ensure equity and dignity for its citizens.

Regarding the deadlines for the talks in Ecuador, Gabino stressed that after half a century of war, his group can not afford to “do things badly or hastily.” In this sense, he added that the ELN has no plan to reach an agreement before the 2018 elections, although he clarified that achieving results in the short term did not depend solely on his organization.

In response to a question regarding the implementation of the agreements reached in Havana between the government and the FARC-EP, Timoléon Jiménez noted that, as expected, difficulties are being encountered in the process, but efforts are ongoing to resolve these.

He added that his organization has shown that it is willing to comply with the agreements as they were signed. He explained that the guerrilla forces have gathered in the Transitional Zones and remain there, despite not having all the agreed conditions.

He also noted that progress is being made in the surrender of arms, despite logistical difficulties.

The FARC-EP leader explained that his organization provided the location of some 900 caches of weapons, but the United Nations has had difficulties in disabling them and turning them into pieces for the three monuments that will be erected in honor of the victims of the conflict.

Both guerrilla organizations expressed their appreciation for the willingness of the Colombian government to facilitate the meeting, and thanked once again the countries accompanying the process, especially Cuba, Venezuela and Norway.

Raúl receives ELN delegation

Addressed during the meeting were peace negotiations underway between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) as well as the exchanges held in Havana between this guerilla organization and the FARC-EP

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Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, held a meeting yesterday, May 11, with ELN Army Commander

Nicolás Rodríguez, head of this insurgent organization’s Central Command, as well as Comandantes Antonio García and Pablo Beltrán, who traveled to Cuba to hold conversations with leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP).

Addressed during the meeting were peace negotiations underway between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) as well as the exchanges held in Havana between this guerilla organization and the FARC-EP.

The ELN delegation expressed their gratitude to Cuba for the role the country has played as a guarantor during peace talks between the Colombian government and the ELN, along with Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, and Norway.

The President reaffirmed Cuba’s commitment to continue supporting the negotiations underway in search of a stable, lasting peace in Colombia.

Also present were Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla and Rogelio Sierra Díaz, Minister and deputy minister of Foreign Affairs , respectively, and Iván Mora Godoy, Cuban guarantor for the Colombian government-ELN peace process.

Raúl receives FARC-EP delegation

The two parties discussed progress being made in the Colombian peace process, and the meeting held this week in Havana between the FARC-EP and the ELN

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On the afternoon of May 11, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, held a meeting with a delegation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), headed by Comandante Timoleón Jiménez, Chief of staff of the guerilla organization, including members of the FARC-EP secretariat Commanders Iván Márquez, Pastor Alape, Joaquín Gómez, Carlos Antonio Lozada, Mauricio Jaramillo, Bertulfo Álvarez and Ricardo Téllez.

The two parties discussed progress being made in the Colombia peace process, in particular the meeting held this week in Havana between the FARC-EP and National Liberation Army (ELN).

The FARC–EP delegation expressed its sincere gratitude for Cuba’s valuable support as guarantor and host of the almost five-year long Peace Talks between the Colombian government and FARC-EP which, after 52 years of violent armed conflict, ended in a peace agreement between the parties.

Norway also served as a guarantor nation alongside Cuba, with Chile and Venezuela accompanying the talks.

The Cuban President reaffirmed the country’s commitment to continue supporting the complex process of implementing the agreement, which represents an important step toward building a stable and lasting peace in Colombia, and consolidating Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.

Participating on the Cuban side during the encounter were Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla and Rogelio Sierra Díaz, minister and deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, respectively; and Rodolfo Benítez Verson, guarantor to the peace process between the Colombian government and FARC-EP.

FARC, ELN Warn Against Extreme Right-Wing’s ‘Call to War’

Leaders of Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army or ELN, said Thursday they don’t believe they can reach a peace agreement with the government before the presidential elections in 2018, but vowed alongside the FARC to continue to work in support of peace under the next administration.

“The truth is we do not believe it — it is not within our calculations, even if we wanted to — that we could move forward as fast as we all want before the elections,” said ELN leader Nicolas Rodriguez, known as “Gabino,” during a press conference in Havana where the rebel army gathered with leaders of the now-demobilizing FARC to discuss their visions of peace.

Gabino argued the government has not assumed its responsibility in fighting against murders by paramilitary groups, which he called one of the “largest obstacles” to achieving peace.

“We still do not see the will in a head-on fight by the state and the government against paramilitarism,” the ELN leader said.

According to official statistics, in the 14 months between Jan. 1, 2016, and March 1, 2017, a staggering 156 social leaders were killed, including Indigenous leaders and human rights defenders. Social organizations have pointed to a rise in right-wing paramilitary activity as the cause between the spike in targeted violence.

Gabino traveled to Havana — the site of four years of peace negotiations between the goverment and the FARC — to hold talks with FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, known as Timoleon Jimenez or Timochenko, in a historic first-ever public meeting between the two 52-year-old left-wing guerrilla groups. Dressed in civilian clothes, the two leaders agreed that allow their movements have followed different paths, they ultimately share the same objective of “making the rights of the victims the heart of the pursuit of peace.”

They agreed to continue to work against right-wing warmongering and to protect the country’s budding new era of peace, despite the challenges it faces.

“We will try to ensure that the present effort for a political solution commits the different political forces that participate in the debate in the 2018 elections,” the two leaders said in a joint statement, “and we will try to avoid that the calls to war by the extreme right reverse this momentum to achieve a new country with equality.”

Both the ELN and the FARC were founded in 1964 in different parts of the country. While the FARC emerged directly from rural roots as a group of armed campesinos in the Tolima department, southwest of Bogota, the ELN — inspired by the Cuban Revolution and its iconic leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara— was formed by left-wing intellectuals, students, and Catholic radicals in the northern department of Santander.

The FARC, larger and more well-known than the ELN, signed a final peace agreement with the government last year, bringing an end to more than 50 years of internal armed conflict that claimed the lives of some 260,000 people in the South American country.

The ELN, which is thought to have around 1,500 active members, is expected to resume peace negotiations on May 16 with the government of Juan Manuel Santos in Quito, Ecuador.