The presidents of Colombia and Venezuela, Gustavo Petro and Nicolás Maduro, meet in Caracas on January 7, 2022.OSCAR CARDONA GARCIA (COLOMBIAN PRESIDENCY)
Gustavo Petro and Nicolás Maduro agreed in the meeting they held this Saturday to continue the peace process with the ELN in Caracas and not in Mexico as planned, official sources have advanced to EL PAÍS.
The little predisposition that the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has shown and the crisis generated as a result of the misunderstanding between Petro and the guerrillas on account of the ceasefire has led them to make this urgent decision.
The talks will resume on January 21 at the Humboldt Hotel and this time the cycle will not last 20 days, but will be shorter.
Some negotiators consider the place a bit cold and difficult to access —you have to go up to the facilities, at the top of a hill, by cable car or in an all-terrain car—, but with the little time left to organize, it is the best option.
In addition, for the guerrilla leaders it is more comfortable to continue talking in a country where most of them live.
In those days of discussion, a bilateral ceasefire must be agreed.
Petro, according to the negotiators themselves, rushed on December 31 by assuming that it was closed and the guerrillas denied it three days later.
Danilo Rueda, the Peace Commissioner, believes that the mistake has not put the process at risk, but it has undoubtedly been the first serious friction between the parties.
There is a good predisposition from both the government and the ELN to reach an agreement, but some are in a hurry more than others.
Petro does not want the matter to go on forever, he would bog down all his time.
On the other hand, the guerrillas, founded 60 years ago, have a more contemplative vision of life.
The first stage of the negotiations ended in Caracas on December 11.
The relief was taken by Mexico.
The negotiators of the Government of Colombia and the ELN would travel there in the third week of January.
It was discussed whether it was going to be held in Cancun, Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta.
Mérida and Campeche were also considered.
However, the days went by and López Obrador did not seem enthusiastic about the idea, according to three sources consulted in the negotiation.
The president of Mexico was more focused on his internal policies and on the meeting that Celac is going to hold on the same dates.
The problem between Petro and the ELN ended up convincing everyone that the best thing to do was to continue the negotiations in Caracas.
The President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, upon his arrival in the city of Caracas, Venezuela, on January 7, 2022.OSCAR CARDONA GARCIA (COLOMBIAN PRESIDENCY)
Maduro has shown himself willing.
The Venezuelan president has enthusiastically welcomed the process with the ELN, which has many ties to Venezuela, from day one.
Part of its structure has been established for years on the Venezuelan side of the border.
In addition, Maduro continues in this way to improve his international image, after three years of diplomatic isolation.
Petro's arrival in power has endowed him with a strategic partner and his willingness to sit down to negotiate with the opposition in Mexico to agree on fair presidential elections in 2024 has brought him closer to countries from which he was far removed until now, such as the United States, France and Spain.
Petro had to organize the second cycle of dialogues as soon as possible, he cannot afford any more delays, and that is why he traveled by surprise to Caracas this weekend to meet Maduro.
"Venezuela as a guarantor country will support the Government of Colombia in its objective of maintaining the bilateral cessation and total peace," read the joint statement signed by the two presidents.
That support, specifically, goes through hosting the dialogues again, which have to be held now, in less than two weeks.
There is no time to lose.
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