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  • Pablo Beltran, chief negotiator of the National Liberation Army (ELN), speaks to the media in Quito, Ecuador.

    Pablo Beltran, chief negotiator of the National Liberation Army (ELN), speaks to the media in Quito, Ecuador. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 February 2018

"We want to support the parties so that trust is restored and humanitarian relief reaches the communities," said Luis Emil Sanabria.

Colombian labor union leaders and minority groups have joined the Catholic church in calling for a resumption of peace negotiations between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the government.

Luis Emil Sanabria, director of the National Network of Citizen Initiatives for Peace and Against War (Redepaz), says approximately 50 social leaders will travel from Colombia to Quito, Ecuador, to meet with the members of the ELN, according to RCN Radio.

RELATED: 
Colombia: Church Advocates for Renewed Dialogue With ELN

"We want to support the parties so that trust is restored and humanitarian relief reaches communities," he said.

Two senior lawmakers from opposite ends of the political spectrum – Alvaro Leyva, of the Colombian Conservative Party, and Ivan Cepeda, of the leftist Alternative Democratic Pole – have also voiced their support for resuming the talks, according to Colombia Reports.

Members of Indigenous and African-descendent communities, the most affected during the more than half-century conflict, have also called for the talks to be resumed. 

Father Dario Echeverria Gonzalez, secretary of the National Conciliation Commission of the Episcopal conference, said last week that the ELN had expressed a desire to re-engage.

The church is now actively seeking a meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos, as well as the government's chief peace negotiator, Gustavo Bell.

"The Church is committed to speaking with the government of President Santos and with Dr. Bell himself, to encourage them to proceed with a dose of generosity to continue the negotiation and take it to a spot where the process is irreversible," Father Gonzalez said.

The United Nations, which had a significant role in the monitoring and evaluation of the ceasefire that expired on January 9, has also urged both parties not to abandon the progress made so far.

The ELN says the government isn't doing enough to protect rural and Indigenous social leaders in western regions, where the ELN has traditionally safeguarded rural populations and leaders from more nefarious organized crime groups.

On December 27, several social activists – half of them farmers and three of them women – were murdered.

 

 


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