By Cuban Foreign Ministry

In defense of peace in Colombia

January 27, 2019

On January 17, the General Police Cadets School Francisco de Paula Santader was the target of a car bomb attack that took a toll on the lives of 21 people and injured another 68.

In the face of this situation, Cuba’s President of the Councils of State and of Ministers, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, sent a message to the President of the Republic of Colombia, Ivan Duque Marquez, expressing condolences to the government and the people of Colombia, particularly to the relatives of the victims of the attack; and reaffirming that Cuba rejects and condemns all terrorist actions, methods and practices in all their forms and manifestations. Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla issued a similar message through his official account in Twitter and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also published a press release.

On Friday, January 18, the President of Colombia, Ivan Duque Marquez, publicly announced his decision to end the peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which were being held in Havana, Cuba; and activated the arrest warrants against the members of the peace delegation of that guerrilla organization, which makes it impossible for the peace negotiations to take place.

Consequently, in the face of the breakdown of the peace talks, the appropriate course of action would be the implementation of the “Protocol in case of a rupture in peace talks between the Colombian government and the ELN”, which states that “if the peace talks are ended, the countries and parties will have 15 days as from its announcement to plan and materialize the return of the representatives of the ELN delegation to Colombia.”

In this context, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba calls on the government of Colombia and the ELN to take the appropriate steps that will make it possible to implement the “procedure of return of the ELN delegation”, strictly abiding by the letter of said protocol.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba informs that, in accordance with its responsibility as an alternative venue and a guarantor in this peace process, it sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, a Note Verbale reminding it of the commitments entered into by the government of Colombia and the ELN and sent a copy of the said note to the other guarantor countries

Cuba has honored its duties as guarantor and alternative venue of the peace talks between the Colombian government and the ELN at the request of both. Cuba took on that responsibility as a gesture of goodwill, in an attempt to prevent the failure of said process, in keeping with the proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace signed by the heads of state and government of the region.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba wishes to inform that the presence of the delegation of the ELN in Cuba, as well as the celebration of two rounds of the peace talks between the government of Colombia and the ELN, respond to an official request made by both parties under the “Agreement of Colombia Peace Talks between the National Government and the National Liberation Army”, signed on March 30, 2016 in Caracas by the parties and the six guarantor countries.

That agreement states that “the sessions of the talks would take place in Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Brazil and Cuba. These countries, together with Norway, would be the guarantors”. Thus, Cuba, was granted the category of guarantor and alternative venue of the peace negotiation process.

From February 7, 2017 to April, 2018, the peace talks were held in the Republic of Ecuador. However, on May 4, 2018, Cuba received a joint request from the Colombian government and the ELN, expressing that “with the idea of resuming the talks immediately, we request the Republic of Cuba to serve as the venue of what is left of this fifth round”. In that same communication, both parties said to be “ready to travel as soon as possible. In principle, Cuba has thought to resume the talks, with the presence of the guarantor countries, on May 8 this year”. Cuba gave a prompt response and the talks were resumed on May 10 of that same year.

Ever since then, the ELN peace delegation has remained in the island. On November 21, 2018, President Duque’s government decided to waive the arrest warrants issued against the 10 ELN members who were in Cuba, awaiting a resumption of negotiations. This waiver was revoked on January 19.

The Cuban authorities expressly demanded the ELN delegation the condition that it should strictly abide by the exclusive purpose of their presence in Cuba, which was to negotiate the peace in Colombia. This was confirmed by Pablo Beltran, chief of the ELN peace delegation in Cuba, in several interviews offered to the media in Havana on January 22.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates that Cuba has never allowed nor it will ever allow its territory to be used for the organization of terrorist actions against any state and reaffirms Cuba’s historical stand against terrorism and war, in defense of peace, with the moral of having been victims of state terrorism for decades.

Cuba has taken part in this process with strict adherence to the consent and the specific agreements reached between the government of Colombia and the ELN following the official request received from them. Cuba has acted with full adherence to its condition as guarantor and alternative venue in an impartial, responsible, professional and discreet way, in the interest of finding a political solution to the conflict in Colombia in order to achieve the peace longed for by its people.

Cuba adopted a similar behavior during the peace process with FARC-EP, which has been internationally recognized as a contribution to peace in Colombia. The international community and the entire region expect to see that this process is fully complied with.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba reiterates its strong belief that the Colombian people deserve peace and will find the ways and means to achieve it.

Havana, January 25, 2019
 

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