The ELN will sign its first bilateral ceasefire with the Government

The ELN will sign its first bilateral ceasefire with the Government

2023-06-09 07:23:04

The bilateral ceasefire is already a fact for the ELN and the government of Gustavo Petro. After eight months of intense negotiations and several crises that shook the Table, the largest active guerrilla in the country is ready to face the first bilateral ceasefire in its history.

If both parties comply with everything agreed, Colombians would feel the effect that 5,850 illegals stop planning and executing attacks against the Public Force and the civilian population. Of this total number of members, military intelligence estimates that some 2,900 Elenos are armed and the rest belong to support networks and urban militias.

Although there are doubts that the ELN will keep its word and have a unified command capable of pacifying all its troops, the truth is that this step becomes an unprecedented event in the five times that the guerrilla has tried to negotiate with the country.

As a prelude to that historic moment, the president and the top commander of the ELN, Antonio García, have already landed in Cuba to witness the official signing of the decree and pose with a handshake that seals that agreement for a bilateral cessation at the national level and six months.

Despite the fact that the truce becomes a political triumph for Petro and his negotiators, the agreement is not the panacea that the government was hoping for and it has several points that remained as requested by the ELN, and not as Petro suggested.

Even so, it is possible that the head of state has given in more than necessary to have this news in his hands and try to extinguish the last consequences of his government’s biggest scandal.

In fact, the agreement was on a tightrope almost until this Thursday, when the negotiating table asked for one more day to announce the definitive conclusions of the Cuba Agreement. Despite the fact that everything was ready for Petro to arrive in Havana and announce the first great achievement of the Table, the delegations delayed the event while they finalized requests from both parties.

While that was happening, the delegations would have been studying an alleged complaint from the Ministry of Defense requesting that the cessation go beyond International Humanitarian Law, IHL.

The latter –which is a fundamental technical matter– would imply that the guerrillas would only be deprived of shooting and attacking the Public Force, but could continue committing crimes such as extortion with the argument of financing themselves.

In theory, this measure seeks a balance between humanitarian concerns and the military demands of the ELN and the Army. But in practice it could mean that society does not feel a real change in the insecurity dynamics of the territories and, furthermore, it would make monitoring more difficult.

Despite these concerns, it is believed that the decree that García and Petro will sign this Friday will be with those parameters and without the possibility of yielding in the future.

What is certain, based on confirmations from both delegations to this newspaper, is that the agreement will last for an initial period of 6 months and will be applied throughout the country.

The latter is constituted as a triumph of the guerrillas, since Petro had insisted that he preferred a cessation by regions that would later be extended to the national level.

As additional details, it is known that the Negotiation Table will create a monitoring mechanism that will monitor the termination on a monthly basis and will establish sanctions or urgent meetings for possible violations by both parties.

With everything ready, the country awaits the official event in which Petro and García will shake hands and announce the end of mutual shooting as a promise of a real search for peace. Will this advance of the total peace of Petro manage to calm the scandal in the House of Nariño? That remains to be seen.

Microhistory: The photo of Petro that angered the guerrillas

In the midst of these tug of wars within the Negotiation Table, President Gustavo Petro leaked – by mistake or for convenience – a photo that showed some details of that decree that the Government and the ELN would sign. Despite the fact that the head of state deleted it after a few minutes on the air, the damage was done and the table became tense due to those leaks that the guerrillas have criticized so much. As is well known, the negotiation is handled under the utmost political secrecy and none of the negotiators is authorized to disclose details until the agreements are reached. In the end, almost everything that that draft showed will be fulfilled to the letter. However, the date on which the termination begins was moved one more day at the request of the Board. So, despite the fact that Petro said that the termination would start on June 8, everything seems to indicate that the measure will take effect as of this Friday.

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