February 5, 2023

Government of Colombia and ELN reach agreement on the return of displaced indigenous communities

Read Time:1 Minute, 42 Second


(CNN) — The President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, announced that the government delegation and representatives of the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group signed a preliminary agreement to promote the return of internally displaced indigenous communities to their territories as part of negotiations for peace that take place in Caracas, Venezuela.

During a speech in Dabeiba, in Colombia’s Antioquia region on Saturday, Petro said the deal was reached during the first week of formal negotiations between the two delegations.

“We started a conversation with the ELN, a peace negotiation. The first point that we discussed with the ELN, almost a week after these talks, is that they are going to allow the Embera indigenous communities that have been displaced during the conflict to return to their territories,” Petro said.

According to the Colombian government, the ELN is the largest guerrilla group still active in the country, a force of thousands of fighters exercising territorial control in some of the most remote areas of Colombia.

As a result of more than sixty years of armed conflict between the guerrillas and the Colombian State, several communities, including indigenous populations, have been displaced. The Embera are one of the largest Native American ethnic groups in Colombia, their territories stretching from the western flanks of the Andes mountain range to the Pacific Ocean in western Colombia.

In his speech, Petro did not specify how many indigenous communities will be allowed to return to their ancestral territory as a result of the agreement signed with the ELN.

The Colombian government formally reopened peace negotiations with the ELN last month, with the mediation of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, the Catholic Church and Venezuela. Delegates from the government and the rebel group will meet in Caracas, Venezuela, over the next few weeks to try to reach a comprehensive peace agreement similar to the 2016 deal signed between Colombia and another rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. .



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