January 31, 2023

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Pedro and Maduro agree to continue peace process in Caracas instead of Mexico as planned

Gustavo Pedro and Nicolás Maduro agreed In their meeting Official sources have advanced to EL PAÍS that this Saturday the peace process with the ELN will continue in January in Caracas and not as planned in Mexico. The unwillingness shown by the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and A crisis created as a result of a misunderstanding This emergency decision was made between Pedro and the guerrillas because of the ceasefire. However, according to sources first-hand at the talks, this was due to a logistical problem and not a lack of interest on the part of Mexico. The schedule in that country will be established in the second week of February, probably on the 12th.

This time negotiations will resume at the Humboldt Hotel on January 21, this time the cycle will not last 20 days, but will be shorter. Moreover, it is not even considered a cycle, but a negotiation before the second period. Some negotiators find the place a bit cold and difficult to access – you have to go to the facilities, up the mountain, by cable car or all-terrain car – but with some time left to organize, it’s the best option. In addition, it is more convenient for guerrilla leaders to continue to speak in the country where they live the most. “It’s very possible, very realistic,” says a person familiar with the conversations.

During those days of discussion, the two sides must agree to a cease-fire. Pedro, according to the negotiators, rushed in on Dec. 31, deeming it closed and the guerrillas denied it three days later. Peace Commissioner Danilo Ruda believes The mistake did not jeopardize the process, but this was undoubtedly the first serious friction between the parties. There is a good prognosis from both the government and the ELN to reach an agreement, but some are in more of a hurry than others. Pedro did not want the affair to go on forever, as it would ruin his entire mandate. Guerrillas, on the other hand, founded more than 60 years ago, have a contemplative outlook on life.

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The first round of talks concluded in Caracas on December 11. Mexico took the relay. Negotiators from the Colombian government and the ELN will travel there in the third week of January. It was debated whether to take place in Cancun, Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta. Mérida and Campeche were also considered. But days passed and it was not completed. Some sources close to the talks reckon López Obrador doesn’t seem keen on the idea. Others he was interested in the idea, but did not have time to organize it. The Mexican president paid close attention to the meeting to be held by Celac on the same dates. The problem between Pedro and the ELN managed to convince everyone that the best thing to do was to continue the negotiations in Caracas.

The President of Colombia, Gustavo Pedro, upon his arrival in Caracas, Venezuela on January 7, 2022.Oscar Cardona Garcia (Colombian Presidency)

Maduro has shown himself willing. The Venezuelan president has enthusiastically welcomed the process with the ELN, which has many ties to Venezuela. Part of its structure has been established over the years on the Venezuelan border. Additionally, after three years of diplomatic isolation, Maduro continues this way to improve his international image. Pedro’s rise to power provided him with a strategic partner He was willing to negotiate with the opposition in Mexico Agreeing to fair presidential elections in 2024 has brought him closer to countries he has so far avoided, such as the United States, France and Spain.

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Pedro needs to organize a second round of talks as soon as possible and he can’t afford any more delays, which is why he made a surprise trip to Caracas this weekend to meet with Maduro. “Venezuela will support the government of Colombia as a guarantor in its mission to maintain a bilateral ceasefire and complete peace,” read the joint statement signed by the two presidents. That support, in particular, goes by re-hosting the talks, which must now be held within two weeks. There is no time to lose.

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