The Colombian Government appoints two former ELN leaders as promoters of peace



The Colombian Government announced this Sunday that it designated Carlos Arturo Velandia, alias "Felipe Torres", and Gerardo Antonio Bermúdez, alias "Francisco Galán", both former leaders of the guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN), as "promoters of peace" .

"These people today have a great commitment to Colombia and that is to help design strategies for peace, strategies for coexistence and reconciliation," said the High Commissioner for Peace, Miguel Ceballos.

This work, added the official, will be carried out "at times when all Colombians must change, at times when there is no room for violence, at times when we all have to build peace and rebuild the bonds of reconciliation between all Colombians. "

"Francisco Galán" was arrested on February 23 in Medellín accused of the kidnapping of more than 64 people perpetrated by the ELN in 2000 who were in public establishments "located at kilometer 18 of the Cali-Buenaventura highway, department of the Valle del Cauca (southwest).

The Prosecutor's Office then said that the former guerrilla chief was arrested the day before "by order of a criminal judge from the specialized circuit in Cali."

With the appointment of promoter of peace, the Government will request the judge of the case to suspend his detention while he carries out this work.

According to Ceballos, both "Galán" and "Torres", who were managers of peace in the negotiations with the ELN in the Government of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018), "have shown a change in their behavior at this time, that change that all Colombians need to do. "

"This is not the time for any illegal armed group to hinder the work of the state and the presence of the state in every corner of this country," he said.

In January last year, the Government revoked "Galán" as a peace manager after the ELN car bomb attack on January 17, 2019 against a Police School in Bogotá, which left 22 cadets dead and 66 wounded.

One of the people who appreciated the government's decision was former President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), who said on Twitter that both ex-guerrillas, "after so many years in prison, have shown an attitude that promotes true peace."

The peace dialogues of the previous Colombian Government with the ELN, which began in February 2017, were suspended with the coming to power of Iván Duque, who upon assuming the Presidency conditioned the continuity of the negotiations on the guerrillas releasing all the people you have kidnapped and renounce that and other criminal activities.

However, the process came to a standstill after the ELN car bomb attack on January 17, 2019 against a Police School in Bogotá.

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