Petro appoints co-founder of M-19 “High Commissioner” for dialogue with armed groups

BOGOTA.- Colombian President Gustavo Petro announced on Wednesday a change in the leadership of the office that leads peace talks with armed groups in the country, one of the main bets in his administration.

Petro indicated in a message on his

In addition to being the new high commissioner, Patiño is the head of the government’s negotiating team with the National Liberation Army guerrilla, raised in arms since 1964 under the model of the Castro regime.

Otty Patiño receives the baton at a time when the two most advanced conversation tables with illegal armed groups are faltering, in the government project called “total peace”, an effort to reduce confrontations and reach agreements with illegals and urban gangs.

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Dialogue in “critical phase”

The dialogue with the ELN is going through a critical phase after the kidnapping of the parents of Luis Díaz, a soccer player for the Colombian national team and the English club Liverpool. The mother regained her freedom on the same day of the kidnapping and his father was held captive for 12 days.

The government is demanding an end to kidnappings as a practice in the conflict and the release of those who remain in captivity. According to Patiño, they have information about 19 kidnapped by the ELN.

However, the top leader of the group, alias “Antonio García”, has said that they will not accept impositions and justified the kidnapping by indicating that their structures have the orientation of “carrying out military operations to obtain finances.”

The other most advanced dialogue process is with the dissident Central General Staff, formed by those who never signed the 2016 peace agreement between the State and the extinct guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The talks were suspended for two weeks by decision of the rebels and both parties announced their willingness to resume them without specifying a date.

For Jorge Restrepo, director of the CERAC research and study center on armed conflicts, the change of high commissioner could favor faster progress, especially in the negotiation with the Central General Staff.

“I think that Danilo Rueda’s leadership in this negotiation had been exhausted. So, eventually it can advance better, but that will depend on the negotiation structure that Otty Patiño designs,” Restrepo explained.