AMERICA/COLOMBIA - To agree on a bilateral ceasefire, a first step in the dialogue between the Government and ELN

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Bogota (Agenzia Fides) - On June 13, the government informed the delegation of the National Liberation Army (ELN), at the headquarters of the peace talks in Quito, Ecuador, on "the willingness to immediately begin studying the conditions to agree on a possible bilateral ceasefire". The decision is contained in a letter of reply to the Catholic Church of Colombia, by the government peace negotiator in talks with the guerrillas, Juan Camilo Restrepo.
In previous days, several Bishops, including Cardinal Rubén Salazar and Mgr. Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga, President of the Colombian Bishops' Conference (CEC), urged the government and the National Liberation Army to agree on a bilateral ceasefire, and to put an end to hostilities, in order to "take the first step" on the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit to Colombia in September.
The Bishop's request at the dialogue Table "came at an appropriate time, not only because we realize that the priority for the affected Colombian areas is to put an end to this conflict with ELN, in particular the actions against the civilian population, also because it is the government’s decision to continue building lasting peace", said Restrepo to the local press.
Dialogue between government and ELN opened on February 7, 2017 in the capital of Ecuador, Quito (see Fides 8/02/2017). In the Message of the 101st Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of Colombia on July 8, 2016, it is clearly written that ELN guerrillas are called to "interpret the wish of peace of all Colombians, to open the door to dialogue and the construction of a country with social justice ensured by political participation and not by weapons". It was mainly ELN that asked for the Church's participation in peace talks. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 22/06/2017)