1684004548 The ELN accuses Petro of stigmatizing and respecting them for

The ELN accuses Petro of stigmatizing and respecting them for labeling the guerrillas a criminal group

- Photo provided by the Colombian Presidency showing Colombian President Gustavo Petro delivering a televised address on Friday at the Casa de Nariño in Bogotá, Colombia.– Photo provided by the Colombian Presidency showing Colombian President Gustavo Petro delivering a televised address on Friday at the Casa de Nariño in Bogotá, Colombia. Colombian Presidency (EFE)

The news put the guerrillas out of the suffocation caused by Havana’s humidity. One of them had just read with astonishment the statements made by Gustavo Petro, collected yesterday in the newspaper El Espectador, and warned the rest. The President, the information said, doubted that the bosses sitting at the negotiating table with the government really ruled over the armed guerrillas and assured that their real reason for their existence in these times was the illegal economy, i.e. the drug dealing, be. and blackmail. The guerrilla delegates couldn’t believe that the head of state, so rhetorical at times, would suddenly stab them with that dagger without making any sense. To be sure, they began following the Presidency’s direct Twitter account via a cell phone, which was broadcasting an event at which Petro addressed the admirals and generals of the armed forces passionately and uninhibitedly. As methodical as they are, Pablo Beltrán and his team waited to see the transcription in Word to grade their words in case there was an error. There really wasn’t. Petro had said exactly what El Espectador had said. Therefore, the ELN bosses took it as a real affront.

The matter has thrown into a crisis peace talks between the Colombian government and the ELN, which are currently taking place in Cuba. Twenty-four hours earlier, the guerrillas had issued a communiqué saying that everything was going well, that they were “consistently” working towards the ceasefire that worries the President so much and the mechanism for getting society’s participation in it. It was a mirage. Petro’s forceful words in front of the uniformed men, typical of someone who likes to repeat that he is the supreme commander of the armed forces, shattered all that harmony. “They sit at the table and talk, but do they govern?” Petro wondered. “Each of us has a lot of questions. Do they really rule?

He was referring to historical guerrilla leaders like Gabino, who has been a member of the ELN since childhood. Now he is old, said the President, and he has sat down to negotiate. But does it really rule? Petro implied no. The fronts are autonomous, they are federal, Petro continued, a statement by some security experts. This thesis says that the guerrillas hidden in camps in the middle of the jungle are not necessarily accountable to the leadership sitting at the negotiating table. “They’re all about the illegal economy, they have little to do with Father Camilo Torres (one of the founders, liberation theology believer). They share the same flag, yes, but their raison d’être is the illegal economy,” Petro continued .

    ELN boss Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, alias "Gabino" (d) and ELN chief negotiator Israel Ramírez, aka ELN leader Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, aka “Gabino” (r.) and ELN chief negotiator Israel Ramírez, aka “Pablo Beltrán” (i), during the start of the third cycle of peace talks between the government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) . ), on May 2nd in Havana (Cuba). Ernesto Mastrascusa (EFE)

This whole affair has inflamed the ELN negotiators, who feel offended. The delegation has asked Petro to clarify as soon as possible whether he believes these negotiations are being conducted with a political organization or with a criminal gang, as he has indicated. What the president said is disrespectful and stigmatizing, according to the guerrilla statement, and violates the deal in Mexico, where both parties agreed on the need to end the armed conflict and move “toward national reconciliation.” The guerrilla believes that this is also a questioning of the government delegation, the guarantor countries, the accompanying organizations (UN and Colombian Bishops’ Conference) and the accompanying countries, including Spain.

The reality is that Petro has sowed discord in these negotiations. When the parties sat at the table, there were no problems, they always showed great harmony and the courage to reach an agreement. However, in the eyes of the President, everything is progressing too slowly. For example, Petro is in a hurry to secure a truce. He tried to push it forward in the new year by pretending that an agreement had been reached to implement it. Feeling implicated in something that had not been consulted, the ELN denied the existence of such a ceasefire. The guerrillas publicly denied the president. Months later, Petro said something more or less similar to what he had said this time: that the guerrillas had gone from socially engaged struggle to the business of drug trafficking and crime. Skilled negotiators like Senator Iván Cepeda and High Commissioner for Peace Camilo Rueda have been able to overcome these obstacles erected along the way, but on this occasion, when a rectification is publicly called for, the problem already will not be easy. manage.


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At a plenary session in Havana, ELN negotiators asked for clarification, and the sooner the better. It seems very unlikely that this would jeopardize dialogue, but it could happen that this crisis sends the two delegations to consultations, as in other serious situations of this long process that began during Juan Manuel Santos’ tenure. The government would go to Bogotá and the guerrillas to the camps to assess the situation. It is up to you to decide. What is certain is that Petro’s words have once again intensified the negotiations with the guerrillas. He wants an agreement, and he wants it now, and he won’t shut up until he gets it. This will test the resistance of the ELN.

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