In Havana, Colombia’s peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) have returned to Cuba, which has played a crucial role despite the political and economic costs it has incurred. This new cycle of peace talks, after those in Venezuela and Mexico, aims to tackle the issue of bilateral ceasefire, humanitarian relief, and participation of civil society in the process. Cuba performed the role of guarantor for the entire process, creating opportunities for discreet, impartial and responsible dialogue without interference.
For Cuba, this firm belief in finding a political solution to the Colombian armed conflict and committing to achieving peace is deeply sincere. Furthermore, this comes at considerable costs, such as Cuba’s inclusion on Washington’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism due to its refusal to hand over the ELN negotiators to Colombia after the 2018 negotiations, which angered the Colombian government. In this sense, Senator Ivan Cepeda said that “Cuba paid a high cost for respecting the rules as a guarantor country”.
Nevertheless, the chief negotiator of ELN, “Pablo Beltrán,” has praised Cuba’s refusal to hand over the ELN negotiators, stating that it was a “very commendable” act. Cuba’s success in winning “a very strong international legal battle” at the cost of being placed on the list of countries sponsoring terrorism is notable. Moreover, Eugenio Martinez, the general director of the Foreign Ministry of Latin America and the Caribbean, points out that had Cuba handed over the ELN negotiators, the peace negotiations, now being resumed, may not have been able to occur.
Despite recent disagreements between the parties, the delegations remain hopeful, coming with a clear mandate to advance the process and reach agreements. Surprisingly there are indications that this could come out of Havana. Although the delegations are optimistic, there is doubt about whether the parties are ready.