Colombian government and ELN guerrilla group agree on bilateral ceasefire

On Friday June 9, 2023, the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) announced a cease-fire agreement bilaterally as well as the calling to society for participating in the peace process.

At the closing of the third cycle of dialogs in Cuba, both parties announced the beginning of the bilateral, national, and temporary cease-fire’ preparation process, which will officially start on August the 3rd this year (2023) and will last for 180 days with the possibility of extension, prior review from the parties.

In addition, the arrangements for society’ participation throughout the conversation and peace construction’ process were initiated. It was announced a preparatory teams’ configuration to set up the National Committee of Participation (CNP), that is going to be established by July the 25th this year. ELN has always highlighted the relevance of society’ participation and discussion in the context of a peace process, as commander Antonio Garcia mentioned during the closure event in Cuba: “The designing process for a political solution is based on rescuing not only the hearth but also the voice of society through its participation to materialize changes. The core of this peace process must be society’ participation”.

The conversation between Colombian government and ELN guerrilla group started on November 22 of 2022. Since then, there have been 3 conversation cycles in Venezuela, Mexico, and Cuba. In August of 2023 the 4th cycle will take place in Venezuela.

During the dialog stablished so far, the urgency of implementing humanitarian actions in the short term has been recognized, for which some humanitarian settlements between the parties have been proposed, such as implementing safe paths, removing mines from ground, and getting financial guarantees for schools and medical missions. Plus, nature has started to be seen as a victim of armed conflict.

Bilateral ceasefire agreement with ELN could be a boost to more conversation possibilities and violence’ de-escalation cases for other armed groups. Currently the Colombian government is working on different approaches and conversation processes with seven armed groups:  ELN, Clan del Golfo – AGC (Gulf Clan), Autodefensas Conquistadoras de la Sierra Nevada – ACSN (Conqueror Self-Defense Forces of the Sierra Nevada), Estado Mayor Central – EMC (Major Central State), Segunda Marquetalia (Second Marquetalia) as well as criminal urban groups from Buenaventura and Medellín.

On Friday, June the 2nd, there was installed officially a negotiating table between the Colombian government and the criminal urban groups of Medellin and Valle de Aburra. This table has the purpose of achieving submission to justice of approximately 14,000 people who are part of around  350 to 400 criminal groups.