New peace talks between Colombia and the Ejército de Liberación Nacional are planned to start in February, forming a step forward in a much-delayed peace process. The talks were confirmed during a press conference in Quito, Ecuador on January 18, which will host the talks when they take place.
It is believed that the ELN will release former congressman Odín Sánchez Montes de Oca, a hostage situation that has meant talks have not taken place in the past. It is also believed that any ELN negotiators would be declared peace advocates under a presidential decree. This will look to suspend any warrants and prison sentences for groups engaged in peace talks.
However, it shouldn’t be assumed that the Government will look to lessen its enforcing of the law against such groups, as made evident by continued military and judicial actions being taken against guerrillas.
Although the announcement in Quito shows a step in the right direction, there is no guarantee that the talks will bring the desired results. Even if talks do take place on time, then there is no guarantee that a satisfactory outcome will be achieved within a short time frame. Talks held in the past have been thorny, and this in itself can lead to talks being stretched out. There is also the fact as to whether all divisions of the group will be compliant with regards to any deal made as a result of the talks.