London, 19 May 2020
Justice for Colombia expresses its utmost concern at the recent declarations of the Colombian High Commissioner for Peace, Miguel Ceballos, in support of Cuba’s inclusion in the US State Department list of countries it accuses of “Not Cooperating Fully” with “US Counterterrorism Efforts”.
In the explanation given by the US State Department it claims that Cuba is not supporting “Colombia’s efforts to secure a just and lasting peace…”
The support of the Colombian High Commissioner for Peace for these claims is disingenuous, reckless, and display an immense level of disrespect to all international actors who have supported efforts for peace in Colombia. They also put in grave danger the peace process with the FARC while also pushing further into the distance any potential for future talks with the ELN.
Furthermore, the ongoing insistence of the Colombian government to pursue the extradition of the ELN peace negotiators in direct contradiction to signed protocols is putting at risk the very future of peace processes across the world. It is standard practice during any peace process for a protocol to be agreed for the safe return of negotiators in case of talks breaking down. By undermining this international practice Colombia is shattering a fundamental foundation that makes peace talks possible.
As the two Guarantor Countries to the Colombian peace process both Cuba and Norway should be congratulated for all the work they have been carrying out over several years to officially accompany the process whether during the peace talks themselves or through the ongoing implementation which continues to this day.
Delegations of the Justice for Colombia Peace Monitor, which have included parliamentarians from Britain and Ireland as well as trade union leaders from across Europe, have met on numerous occasions with the Cuban ambassador José Ponce together with his Norwegian counterpart in their roles as guarantors to the agreement.
In addition to serving as a Guarantor Country, Cuba hosted the talks between 2012 and 2016, providing the platform for the historic agreement that was eventually signed between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP. Further to these efforts, Cuba opened its doors again in 2018 when talks between the Colombian government and the ELN were reinitiated after previous attempts in several other countries.
For Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace to respond in this way to the numerous gestures and contributions to peace shown by Cuba is not only extremely distasteful but puts into doubt once again whether this government really is committed to putting its full weight behind supporting peace.