Talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) will resume in Caracas on Wednesday to clarify the steps towards an agreement that will allow progress towards a definitive and lasting peace.

The meeting, which does not have a strict agenda, aims to give continuity to the process and enable a new understanding that will allow the guerrillas to accept the bilateral ceasefire announced on 31 December by President Gustavo Petro.

The insurgent faction led by Pablo Beltrán said in a statement that they do not recognise the announcement because it was not part of the first agreements reached in the previous round of negotiations held in Caracas in December.

Senator Iván Cepeda, who is part of the government delegation, expressed the importance of clarifying the situation in order to pave the way for the second round of talks that will begin in Mexico in mid-February.

For his part, the head of the Colombian government’s negotiating team, Otty Patiño, thanked Venezuela on behalf of his delegation for its hospitality in hosting this extraordinary meeting.

The Venezuelan reception of the talks is part of the new policy of collaboration undertaken by the governments of Nicolás Maduro and Gustavo Petro, which includes the opening of borders, the resumption of flights, the gradual recovery of binational trade, the return to Venezuela of control over the Monómeros company and the recent meeting held by the two leaders in Caracas, details of which were not transcended, but which presumably has a positive indicator in the resumption of negotiations between the Colombian government and the guerrillas.

On the other hand, the deactivation of tensions between Colombia and Venezuela and the example exuded by the new type of relationship undertaken augur well for the imminent Summit of Heads of State of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which will take place on the 23rd of this month in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Humanitarian Caravan

While the delegations are meeting in Caracas, a humanitarian caravan will begin its journey to the region of Valle del Cauca and Chocó to gather information to guarantee humanitarian relief to the population of the region affected by armed clashes, according to a report by the Colombia Informa news agency.

The caravan is part of the agreements previously reached at the Dialogue Table and aims to produce a report that will enable the conditions to adequately manage the return of the displaced population and put an end to the confinement caused by violence in regions mostly inhabited by Afro-Colombian and indigenous people.

“If the initiative for humanitarian relief came from the Peace Dialogue Table”, states the first bulletin, “this action is accompanied and integrated by delegates from social and territorial organisations, human rights defenders, international organisations, state institutions and church representatives”.

At the same time, it is specified that the indigenous and Maroon guards will accompany the tour and contribute to guaranteeing the security of the commissions.

Finally, the communiqué ends by affirming that “the Humanitarian Caravan will contribute to signal to national and international public opinion the urgency of dialogue, peace-building, the return and restoration of the rights that have been violated for thousands of inhabitants of the Colombian non-violent Pacific, who today continue to suffer the ravages of armed violence.”