The Colombian President, Gustavo Petrowill travel to Cuba this Thursday to attend the closing of the third cycle of peace talks between the Government and the guerrillas of National Liberation Army (ELN)in which the announcement of a possible bilateral ceasefire agreement is expected.
The president will accompany the formal closing of this round of talks, held on the island after the previous ones took place in Mexico City and Caracas. The same happens after 35 days of talks between the two parties.
It is the first time that Petro has accompanied a closing round of negotiations and it does so at a time when his government is experiencing a crisis uncovered by a “friendly fire” between two of his closest people, therefore expectations of the expected announcement are increasing of the bilateral ceasefire.
In addition, Petro himself published on his Twitter account this Monday a photo meeting with the military, in which, in some projected slides, an image was seen explaining how said ceasefire would work, which in any case is not yet official.
The discussion continues with the military leadership on the developments up to the moment of the dialogues with the ELN in Cuba. Until the end of these dialogues, final decisions will be made. pic.twitter.com/SSdmm33eOQ
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) June 5, 2023
The parties are working on the key point of the bilateral ceasefire, where the guerrillas advocate a “bilateral and national” ceasefire that includes “parastatal forces and criminal groups”, in addition to asking that it be “preliminary” because the final one would come with the final agreement.
The chief negotiator of the Colombian Government, Otty Patiño, considered that the ceasefire should include hostilities (damage against the civilian population: from threats to confinement, through forced displacement and the recruitment of minors) and a “geographical limitation”, to be verifiable.
The work of the parties, however, has been affected at times by politics in Bogotá. First, when some statements by the president led the ELN to force a “pause” in the negotiations that lasted three days.
Then came the crisis over the wiretaps involving the former ambassador to Venezuela Armando Benedetti and the also former chief of staff of Petro Laura Sarabia, both dismissed last Friday.
This worsened over the weekend with the audios of the former diplomat, leaked by the magazine Weekin which he threatened Sarabia with revealing alleged irregularities in the financing of the president’s electoral campaign.
In Havana, meanwhile, the parties have assured that they are “positively advancing their work” and for this reason they extended the talks until this Thursday, when in principle they were scheduled to conclude on May 29.