AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The first phase of the peace talks between the Government and the ELN, the Colombian Church "permanent companion" concludes

Monday, 12 December 2022 peace   armed groups   social situation   local churches  


Bogota (Agenzia Fides) - The Colombian Catholic Church has accepted the invitation to participate as a "permanent companion" in the peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, which are taking place in Caracas (see Fides, 21/11/2022; 28/11/2022). Yesterday, December 11, the letter signed by the President of the Colombian Bishops' Conference, the Archbishop of Bogota Msgr. Luis José Rueda, dated December 2, addressed to the representatives of the Colombian Government and the ELN in the peace dialogues, in which he affirms: "The Episcopal Conference receives with gratitude and responsibility the invitation to participate in its capacity as permanent companion at the Dialogue Table through the representation of the illustrious Monsignor Héctor Fabio Henao, who with his experience and wisdom, accompanied by our prayers, will be ready to collaborate in whatever is required to consolidate this long-awaited process for the good of our country."
According to the conversations that have taken place, the Episcopal Conference has also appointed two Archbishops, that of Popayán, Ómar Alberto Sánchez Cubillos, and that of Cali, Darío de Jesús Monsalve Mejía, so that they are "attentive to support these processes of the Dialogue Table". The letter from the President of the Bishops' Conference concludes with this wish: "The Church expresses her best wishes to the parties so that, diligently seeking the necessary paths, they travel with commitment in the search for peace" and thus work for forgiveness and reconciliation, and to be artisans of peace.
Monsignor Héctor Fabio Henao, in his 25 years as Director of the National Secretariat of Social Pastoral/Cáritas Colombia, has worked mainly on human rights, democracy, peace, social justice and humanitarian crises. He has participated in several peace processes, promoting a negotiated peace and the need to repair the victims of conflicts. He is currently the Delegate of the Colombian Episcopal Conference for Relations with the State.
According to the information
gathered by Fides, the representatives of the Colombian government and those of the ELN concluded a first phase of the peace talks which had begun on November 21, in Caracas. The negotiations were interrupted in 2018, when they were taking place in Cuba, by decision of the then president of Colombia, Ivan Duque. Venezuela is one of the three countries, together with Cuba and Norway, guarantors of the agreements, and plays a particularly important role due to its proximity to Colombia and the strong presence of the ELN in the border areas. In this first phase of talks, three other countries (Chile, Brazil and Mexico) were invited to take part in the negotiations as "guarantors" in addition to the previous three, and to assume the role of "accompanying countries" United States, Spain , Germany, Switzerland and Sweden, with the United States sending a "special envoy" to participate in the work.
The National Liberation Army (ELN) is a guerrilla formation of Marxist-Leninist inspiration, one of the main parties responsible for the internal conflict that has bloodied Colombia since 1964. After the peace agreement signed on November 12, 2016 between the Farc (Armed Forces Revolutionaries of Colombia), also of Marxist-Leninist inspiration, with the Colombian government, and the laying down of arms, the ELN continues to be the most powerful armed military network in the country, with some 2,000 troops, according to government sources. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 12/12/2022)