“Second peace process begins” in Colombia with FARC dissidents

FARC dissidents

Gustavo Petro announced that the Government and the Central General Staff (EMC) of the extinct FARC dissidents will open a peace dialogue table, after the lifting of 19 arrest warrants by the Prosecutor’s Office.

“A second peace process begins. A table will be established between the Government and the Central General Staff,” Petro said in a message on Twitter without giving further details. The president has defended a policy of “total peace” to which he intends to link various armed groups that operate in the country to start peace negotiations, although for the moment the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) are the only one with the that a formal dialogue has begun. 

In this sense, today’s announcement means that the EMC will be the second group with which the Colombian government will seek peace and it is expected that this process, unlike the one carried out with the ELN, will take place in the country. 

In his search for total peace in Colombia, the president announced on December 31 a ceasefire for six months with the ELN, the Central General Staff, the Segunda Marquetalia (another FARC dissidence), the Clan del Golfo and the paramilitaries of the Sierra Nevada. However, days later the ELN said that it was not joining that pact because it was announced without having been agreed upon at the negotiating table and unilaterally.

The Central General Staff is a FARC dissidence led by alias “Iván Mordisco”, who never signed the 2016 peace agreement, so there would be no legal problems to start talks that could lead to an agreement.

Suspend arrest warrants

The Colombian Attorney General, Francisco Barbosa, announced on Monday the suspension of the arrest warrants against 19 EMC leaders at the request of the Government to advance a possible peace negotiation. “I decided to suspend these arrest warrants today and it is important to note that none of those persons requested in Resolution 039 (…) have arrest warrants for extradition purposes,” Barbosa said in a statement. 

In Resolution 039, of March 8, the Government recognized 19 people as members of the EMC of the FARC dissidents and asked the competent authority, which is the Prosecutor’s Office, to suspend the arrest warrants “during the term in which the related persons (…) maintain the recognition of representative member”.

Barbosa clarified that Alonso Velosa, known as “John Mechas”, the main leader of the 33rd Front, which operates mainly in the department of Norte de Santander, on the border with Venezuela, is excluded from that list. Alias ​​”John Mechas” is credited with the June 2021 shooting attack against the helicopter in which then-President Iván Duque was flying when the device was approaching Cúcuta, the regional capital, and an attack a few days earlier against a canton city ​​military. 

On the other hand, prosecutor Barbosa clarified that “this decision is different from the one that was produced at the request of the president of the republic (Gustavo Petro) on January 11 of this year, which sought to benefit members of the Clan del Golfo.”