Colombian military urges government to take action against leftwing paramilitary groups

Colombia to restart peace talks with insurgents ELN: Negotiations to start in Colombian capital

The leaders of two Marxist rebel groups, one of whom is now under house arrest

By John Denton 18 December 2000

Peace talks will begin in three months’ time in the Colombian capital, Bogota, to try to resolve a conflict that has been raging in the jungles of northern and central Colombia since 1992 with increasing violence.

Negotiations with the ELN, the FARC, and other leftwing guerrilla units were suspended indefinitely after the assassination of president Andres Pastrana on September 11 by members of a paramilitary death squad.

Colombian President Ernesto Samper said he would not permit further attacks on civilians. On Wednesday a group of leftwing leaders, including some former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP), announced the resumption of talks with the FARC and the ELN.

But the resumption of talks with the FARC and the ELN is not being welcomed in the right wing press as a victory for the Left, which is being demonised under the slogan, “Peace in Colombia?” But it is a victory for the country’s communist and guerrilla parties.

The peace initiative had been stalled for six years, and the talks now have a strong chance of success. It is now only a question of how long the talks will last. The right in Colombia and beyond is united in its opposition to talks.

One former Marxist guerrilla leader has been captured by Colombian security forces and is being held for questioning. A number of Marxist guerrilla leaders are now under house arrest, including one who is in hiding in Mexico.

A group of senior officials of the Colombian military, including senior commanders of the army and of the intelligence service, have issued a statement urging the government to take firm action against rightwing paramilitary groups who are being used to kill leftists – an unprecedented gesture by an official institution.

The statement said the killing of Pastrana was “an act of terrorism, which can also be regarded as an act of war for war crimes.” The statement added that “the Colombian military will not tolerate these terrorist acts, nor will anyone who is responsible for them.”

The statement was signed by:

Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, who is currently on a state visit to Italy, where he is

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