Indigenous and black people ask Duque to resume dialogues with the ELN

The members of the Ethnic Commission for Peace request the president to reconsider his position against this guerrilla and offer themselves as mediators in the search for a negotiated solution to the conflict. The indigenous peoples and black members of the Ethnic Commission for Peace expressed their concern at President Duque’s announcement to break the dialogues with the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the face of the wave of violence that such a decision would bring to their territories. They ask the president to continue with the peace process with this guerrilla and offer themselves as mediators for the dialogue.

Through a statement, the commission – integrated, among others, by the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) and the Afro-Colombian National Peace Council (Conpa) – rejected the attack committed last Thursday, January 17 against the Cadet School General Santander, in Bogotá. ELN is responsible for the attack against the Santander General School. However, they ask the president “to consider the dialogue and the political solution as the only way out of the historical conflicts of injustice and social inequality that has left thousands of victims.” The call of these peoples is produced when considering that in President Duque’s mandate “airs of war have reappeared” that have put their territories at risk due to the actions of armed groups.

“As Ethnic Peoples, we continue to be at risk and in the midst of actors and armed actions of different actors and in different parts of the country,” they said in the statement. Therefore, “we ask (President Duque) to reconsider his position, it is urgent to continue the dialogues with the ELN; a single life saved by the cessation of the armed conflict will have validated all the efforts that can be made.”

Resume dialogue with ELN, the clamour of social leaders. In addition to the request to Duke to resume talks with that guerrilla, the ethnic peoples propose to serve as mediators in the search for dialogue. “As caregivers of life and with the greatest desire to live and build the territorial peace we dream of, we reiterate our commitment to building a peaceful country and offer ourselves as an Ethnic Commission for Peace and the Defense of Territorial Rights as mediators to continue the dialogue and make all possible efforts so that the negotiated solution remains the only alternative to armed confrontation”, the document points out. The call of the Ethnic Commission joins other petitions that have already been raised from different sectors in the regions most affected by the conflict so that the Government reconsiders its decision to break the dialogues with the ELN and avoid a possible escalation of violence.

This text was originally published in Spanish on January 19 (2019), in the Digital Edition of the magazine El Espectador by Cristian Garavito.

Reference: Pueblos indígenas y negros le piden a Duque reanudar diálogos con el ELN.

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