HAVANA – The president of Cuba, Raul Castro, welcomed on Thursday delegations from the Colombian guerrilla groups the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) which met in Havana this week in search of a consensus to contribute to peace in their country, official media reported.
Cuban president Raul Castro and members of the secretariat of the FARC, led by their leader Timoleon Jimenez, alias “Timochenko,” discussed the progress of the peace process in Colombia and the recent meeting in the Cuban capital between this insurgent organization and the ELN.
The FARC delegation expressed its “deep gratitude” to Castro for Cuba’s “valuable support” as guarantor and for enabling dialogue with the Colombian government for nearly five years, which resulted in the signing of the peace agreement in September 2016, after 52 years of armed conflict.
Castro reaffirmed Cuba’s commitment to continue supporting the intricate process of implementing the agreement, which he considered an important step in building a “stable and long-lasting peace” in Colombia as well as in consolidating Latin America and the Caribbean as a “zone of peace.”
Alongside Cuba, Norway also participated as guarantor of the peace process between Juan Manuel Santos’ government and the FARC, while Chile and Venezuela acted as companions.
In the meeting with Raul Castro, members of the FARC secretariat Ivan Marquez, Pastor Alape, Joaquin Gomez, Carlos Antonio Lozada, Mauricio Jaramillo, Bertulfo Alvarez and Ricardo Tellez were present.
Also on Thursday, the Cuban leader met with the head of the ELN Nicolas Rodriguez, alias “Gabino,” and the commanders of the rebel group Antonio Garcia and Pablo Beltran.
With the ELN delegation, Castro discussed the development of peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the guerrilla group.
The ELN delegation thanked Cuba for its role as guarantor at the table of dialogue between the Colombian government and its representatives, along with Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela and Norway.
Likewise, the president of Cuba reaffirmed his country’s commitment to continue supporting the process of negotiations that the Colombian government has started in order to reach a stable and lasting peace in Colombia.
At the end of three days of talks in Havana, the two main Colombian guerrilla groups said on Thursday in a joint statement that they maintain “common objectives, with different but complementary paths, such as pushing the society towards a leading role in the achievement of peace.”
The two guerrilla groups agreed to focus on the rights of victims as the “heart of the search for peace,” in order for the “full truth” about the last 70 years of bloody war in Colombia to be established.
FARC leader “Timochenko” and “Gabino” of the ELN expressed their hope that the Colombian government will authorize further public meetings between them in the future.
Members of the FARC had previously met with the ELN negotiating team in Quito in April, but this week’s meeting in Havana was the first time that the top leadership of the two guerrilla organizations met publicly.