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Duque awaits the participation of ELN victims in peace talks in Caracas

The former Colombian president ivan duke affirmed this Tuesday that he hopes that the victims of all kinds of the guerrilla National Liberation Army (ELN) are represented in the peace talks that were reinitiated in Caracas by the Government of his successor, Gustavo Petro.

“It seems important to me that Colombian society is present (…) and the victims must be present here,” Duque said in Bogotá, where he presented a book on the four years of his Presidency.

LOOK HERE: Colombia and the ELN hopefully head into a dialogue that seeks changes

In his first public appearance in the country after concluding his term, on August 7, the former president insisted that “the victims must be there” in Caracas, where the government resumed talks with the THE N started in 2017 by Juan Manuel Santos and which were frozen in 2018 by Duque.

“The mining-energy sector that has been a historical victim of the THE Nthe Colombian environmental sector must be present because if there is a group that has been ecocidal in the history of our country it is the THE N”, He said in reference to the numerous attacks by that guerrilla against the oil infrastructure.

Duke added: “Colombian women must also be present because if there is a group that has been characterized by trampling on it, by destroying the condition of women, it has been the ELN.”

Members of the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) delegation in Caracas, Venezuela. (Photo: REUTERS/Leonardo Fernández Viloria) (REUTERS/Leonardo Fernández Viloria/)

Doubts about the dialogues

When presenting the book “Duke, your Presidency 2018-2022″a photographic compendium whose prologue was written by the Nobel Prize winner for Literature Mario Vargas Llosa and published by Villegas Editores, the former president said that he hopes that the negotiators chosen by Petro know how to do their job, but he expressed his skepticism with the new process due to his doubts about the real desire for peace of the guerrillas.

“My voice will never be an obstacle to the construction of peace in Colombia”said the former president and added: “I wish this team well but without falling into the naiveté of allowing discussion tables to be held while the ELN continues to lacerate the Colombian people.”

In this sense, he said that “acts of terrorism, kidnappings and murders cannot be tolerated while talking about peace”, one of the obstacles that led him first to suspend and then to freeze the negotiations with the THE N during his government.

He also said that “The State cannot accept bilateral ceasefires because the State is never equated with terrorism” and therefore it is the guerrillas that must suspend their criminal activity.

A member of the Ernesto Che Guevara front, belonging to the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla, cleans his weapon in the jungle of Chocó, Colombia, on May 25, 2019. (Photo by Raúl ARBOLEDA / AFP)

A member of the Ernesto Che Guevara front, belonging to the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla, cleans his weapon in the Chocó jungle, Colombia, on May 25, 2019. (Photo by Raúl ARBOLEDA / AFP) (RAUL ARBOLEDA /)

Failed attempt to trade

The former president pointed out that at the beginning of his government “I was thinking about how to handle the relationship with the ELN, how to face such a dangerous, bloodthirsty group” because it found that in the 17 months that the negotiations with the Government of Santos lasted, the members of that guerrilla “they murdered more than 100 people, committed more than 400 terrorist acts and kidnapped more than 15 people.”

He added that in December 2018, when he was preparing to attend the inauguration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as president of Mexico, he received “an emissary of the Cuban government” who told him that in the Mexican capital he would receive a message “of the three letters and clearly I was not thinking of the International Monetary Fund or the IDB.”

MORE INFORMATION: What is it like and what is the ELN, the Colombian guerrilla that is now negotiating peace with the Petro government, looking for?

The emissary in Mexico turned out to be the Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez who gave him a book of his songbook that contained an envelope with “a letter from THE N where they invited me to start a conversation process and to find a way to have contacts”.

That possibility, he said Dukewas frustrated because the following month, on January 17, 2019, the THE N perpetrated the terrorist attack against the Police school in Bogotá in which 22 cadets died, among them an Ecuadorian, which led his Government to definitively paralyze the negotiations.

“When you shake hands with the ELN, it goes by the elbow, it goes by the neck, and it has done so for the last five decades,” warned the former president.

Source: Elcomercio

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