GUE/NGL welcomes next stage in Colombian peace process negotiations
The Colombian government has announced that it is initiating formal peace talks with the country’s second-largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN). This comes after the country’s Congress had approved last November’s peace agreement with FARC.
Welcoming the announcement, GUE/NGL MEP Tania González Peñas, Vice-Chair of the Delegation for relations with the countries of the Andean Community, emphasised the need for civil society participation:
“We welcome the beginning of the negotiations between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army as an important step towards the construction of a peaceful future in Colombia.”
“However, in order to build lasting peace, civil society must participate in the negotiations. That is why we think it is important to promote a social forum for peace that is recognised by the government. There is no value in short-term peace negotiations without the involvement of civil society.
The Spanish MEP also called on the government to take action to protect human rights defenders: “The violence in Colombia must end. In particular, we condemn the assassination of Emilsen Manyoma – an activist for land rights – and his colleague, Joe Javier Rodallega."
"The government must fully respect peace, and manage and oppose the escalation of violence by new paramilitary groups which threaten and murder human rights defenders and community leaders. The government must not be allowed to ignore this problem anymore.”
Marina Albiol MEP, Vice-Chair of the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly, echoed those concerns for the safety of community leaders: “This is a crucial step in the pacification of Colombia. We highlighted this when the agreement between the government and FARC was announced. But in order to truly bring about the complete pacification of Colombia, it is necessary for the government and the ELN to begin dialogue on reaching an agreement as soon as possible.”
“Although today’s announcement is an exciting step in bringing peace to Colombia, the slaughter of social leaders and human rights defenders perpetrated by paramilitaries must end at once. In particular, we are referring to the current plight of members of Marcha Patriótica which is an eerie reminder of the start of the genocide that was perpetrated against Unión Patriótica," said Albiol.
GUE/NGL Press Contact:
Nikki Sullings +32 22 83 27 60 / +32 483 03 55 75