ELN to begin peace talks
Semana reports that talks between ELN and the government could begin in September in Ecuador after a 14 month exploratory phase. The magazine quotes sources close to the process who say that both sides might be willing to break the deadlock caused by the issue of disarmament.
Back to the negotiating table
Negotiations will resume in Havana on Thursday August 20 after a slight delay. The two sides will be addressing the issue of victims, and hoping to make progress on the question of justice.
UN representative Jean Arnault will join the talks. An expert in mediation and internal conflicts, he was an observer and mediator in the peace process in Guatemala. He will join the subcommittee that was formed on July 12 when both sides committed to steps to de-escalate the violence.
Chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle told the XVIII Meeting of Ordinary Jurisdiction (Encuentro de la Jurisdicción Ordinaria) that “Transitional justice is not impunity.” He spoke of the need to expand the framework of political crimes, and told the assembly, “We’ve managed to find that not all crimes committed under the aegis of the conflict may be susceptible for amnesty and pardon.”
President Santos also addressed the annual meeting, stressing that peace could not be accompanied by impunity and calling on them to apply intelligent creativity – balancing the right for justice with the need for peace – to the issue. He said “Transitional Justice is the mechanism that will help us make the move from conflict to a society that lives in harmony.”
Fragile cease fire
FARC chief Timochenko took to FARC’s website to complain that the government is not honouring its promise to cease airstrikes on the guerilla camps, citing two recent attacks in Putumayo. He also claims the government is ruling in favour of laws that contradict what was agreed in Havana.
President Santos set out his vision of how the peace agreement might be endorsed. He proposed the creation of a ‘Congresito’, which would be a legislative body made up of Congress, government negotiators and the FARC.
The announcement caused some controversy, with critics saying the plan was badly thought out and potentially unconstitutional. Proponents compared it with a similar initiative in South Africa.
Santos addressed the annual meeting of the Association of Colombian Businesses, (Andi), and called on them to be optimistic about the possibility for peace. He said, “If we have achieved all that we have achieved in the conflict, imagine what we could accomplish without this conflict.”
Andi President, Bruce Mac Master, reiterated the organisation’s support for the process, and said that if employers “continue working responsibly under the fundamental principles of equity and inclusion, we can continue contributing to the construction of an area of peace.”