President Juan Manuel Santos invited his predecessor to take part in the talks last week already. The ELN confirmed on Tuesday that Uribe is welcome, claiming “peace is made between adversaries.”
ELN negotiator Victor Orlando Cubides a.k.a. “Aureliano Carbonell,” called on Uribe to participate in an interview with Noticias RPVT.
The guerrilla chief told Reuters the conservative opposition is “welcome here at the headquarters of the dialogue.”
Let him come, because we are looking for a way out. We are willing to negotiate with all political sectors and would consider it positive if ex-President Uribe takes part in these conversations.
ELN negotiator “Aureliano Carbonell”
Uribe’s party said it has no interest in a peace process that must ultimately also seek justice for the thousands of human rights violations committed when Uribe was president.
Instead, the opposition has consistently demanded the guerrilla groups surrender and be the only party to appear before the court, a demand that would leave the majority of victims without justice and violate international humanitarian law if granted.
Our party has no need to participate in these dialogues to make a validation of the demobilization of the narco-terrorist groups with the Santos administration. It is more important for our country and our democracy to maintain a critical position from the opposition.”
Senator Carlos Felipe Mejia
The Santos administration and the ELN announced on March 30 last year that they would hold formalized peace talks to bring to an end a 52 year conflict.
The talks due to be held in Ecuador have been delayed several times mainly due to the ELN’s refusal to release hostages that they continue to hold in captivity.
The government and the rebels issued a joint statement last week indicating that official talks will begin on February 7 with the ELN releasing former congressman Odin Sanchez in exchange for the pardon of two of their members the same day.
If the Santos administration is able to negotiate peace with the ELN, it will have removed the original actors that spurred 52 years of violence.
An agreement would mean that they will be allowed entry to Colombia’s political system, a minor political victory for the group who once hoped to overthrow the government, but ended up being partly responsible for the more than 260,000 innocent civilians who died in the conflict.