In mid-September, a Colombian government delegation met with leaders of dissident groups of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to explore potential peace talks with members of groups who rejected the 2016 peace agreement in Havana. President Petro posted two photos on his Twitter account with the caption, “a dialogue begins,” showing the Colombian government’s High Commissioner for Peace Iván Danilo Rueda with leaders of the dissident groups.
The meeting, held in the department of Caquetá, was also attended by international observers from Norway and the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, reported the Notimérica news site of Spanish news agency Europa Press.
On September 15, Rueda said he had received proposals for dialogue from various groups, including the FARC dissident group led by Iván Márquez, known as the Second Marquetalia, which is said to operate on the Venezuelan border and in Venezuelan territory, AFP reported. “We can affirm that he [Iván Márquez] is one of those who sent the messages,” Rueda said.
In addition to seeking the full implementation of the peace agreement with FARC dissidents, Petro pledged to restart talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) and to negotiate the surrender of criminal gangs in exchange for reduced sentences.
On August 20, Petro announced having signed a decree to lift measures against ELN negotiating leaders, as a preamble to resuming peace negotiations with this insurgent group.
“I have authorized to reinstate the protocols, to allow negotiators again, to allow them to reconnect with their organization, to suspend arrest warrants to those negotiators, to suspend extradition orders to those negotiators so that a dialogue can begin with the National Liberation Army, to try to build the road, hopefully fast and expeditious, where this organization ceases to be an insurgent guerrilla in Colombia,” President Petro said.
The Attorney General’s Office specified that the arrest and extradition warrants against 11 ELN leaders, whom the government recognizes as the negotiators for that armed group, were suspended for three months. Among them is one of its top leaders, Israel Ramírez Pineda, alias Pablo Beltrán.
In 2017, during the mandate of Juan Manuel Santos, peace talks with this guerrilla group had begun in the city of Quito, Ecuador. In 2018, they moved to Havana, Cuba, but the dialogues were broken off during the government of Iván Duque, at the beginning of 2019, after the car bomb attack that the ELN carried out on the General Santander Police Academy south of Bogotá