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Brazil to participate in peace talks between Colombia and the ELN guerrilla army

04/07/2017 - 14h01

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IGOR GIELOW
FROM SÃO PAULO

Brazil will participate in and host at least one round of peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the ELN (the National Liberation Army), the main active guerrilla group in that country.

Brazil's participation in the process marks a drastic change in the relationship between the two countries. Brazil did not take part in the negotiations that culminated in a peace deal between the Colombian government and the narco guerrilla army known as the Farc (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

Brazil's previous stance can be explained by its almost-entirely systematic aversion to Colombia's conservative administrations – thus bringing Brazil closer to the positions maintained by the Farc, which in turn were aligned with the chavismo of Venezuela.

However, Brazil's stance changed when Dilma Rousseff was impeached and the Workers' Party was removed from power.

The current government started strengthening its ties with Bogotá, for example, by reaching an agreement to try and track the Farc's weapons, making sure they don't fall into the hands of Brazilian criminals. The change in posture ultimately led Juan Manuel Santos to invite Brazil to take part in the negotiations.

The negotiations in question will most likely be tougher than the ones that led to a peace deal with the Farc.

The National Liberation Army is a smaller group that has around 2,500 guerrillas, but in terms of ideology, they are considered more radical than the Farc, which is considerably bigger and has around 8,000 members.

The talks will most likely take place in May - either in Brasília, Granja do Torto or in Manaus. A team that is being coordinated by the president is taking care of logistics. Guerrillas would like the press to be present at the talks.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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