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Ambitious Colombian ‘comprehensive peace’ plan falters

WGustavo Pietro When he came to power last year as Colombia’s first blatantly leftist president, he made achieving “comprehensive peace” in the country his top priority. Less than a year later, his quest for peace is more shaky than ever.

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Mr Petro’s plans always seemed ambitious. Colombia has been plagued by internal conflict for more than half a century. Presidents have tackled the problem in different ways: His conservative predecessor, Ivan Duque, encouraged the armed forces to target gang leaders, or “kingdoms.”Previously, Juan Manuel Santos, who was president from 2010 to 2018, spent four years negotiating a peace deal with the FARC, the country’s largest and oldest guerrilla group at the time, known as the FARC. for Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Most of 2016 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia Agreeing to lay down arms in exchange for a reduced sentence, congressional seats, and numerous social security benefits.

Mr. Petro, in his youth, was rice-19, a nationalist guerrilla group, declared a six-month truce with the five largest armed groups in the country, including the National Liberation Army (known as the National Liberation Army), A left-wing guerrilla, and the largest drug gang, Clan del Golfo. On March 15, the president introduced a new law in Congress that, along with his “comprehensive peace” law, creates a legal framework for the government to negotiate with criminal armed groups and grant reduced sentences if they cooperate.

however either ELN and Clan del Golfo are no longer part of the ceasefire.this ELN Claiming it was never signed, Mr Petro ended a truce with Clan del Golfo on March 19 after it was discovered that the gang was involved in the mining strike. The president also faces a fight to get his new law approved, which could go to a vote in the coming weeks. Attorney General Francisco Barbosa criticized the law, which he said would grant amnesty to criminals. Mr Barbosa also worries that the law undermines the independence of the prosecutor’s office.

Meanwhile, violent attacks have increased in recent weeks. Miners went on strike in Bajo Cauca on March 2 after Mr Petro stepped up military operations to crack down on illegal gold mining. Colombian intelligence found that members of the Clan del Golfo had infiltrated the strike — forcing shops to close, blocking roads and leaving thousands without access to essential goods. It was not until the group burned six vehicles that Mr Petro finally ended the ceasefire.

Also on March 29 ELN A military base in Catatumbo, an area bordering Venezuela where coca is the raw plant for cocaine, was attacked. Nine soldiers died. Less than a month ago, a farmer and a policeman were killed in a farmers’ strike in Caqueta, in the southern Amazon region. More than 70 police officers were held hostage for a day.

“These incidents are small setbacks … it’s part of negotiating in a conflict,” said Frank Pearl, the UK government’s chief negotiator. ELN Under the leadership of Mr. Santos. Others are less optimistic. Mr Petro’s son and brother are accused of accepting bribes from drug gangs to secure concessions in the ceasefire process (they both deny wrongdoing). Meanwhile, Mr Petro’s cabinet turned against him in February over health care reform. “Total peace” looks more like a slogan than an achievable goal.

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