Delegations of the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), officially the last rebel organization that continues the armed struggle, began yesterday Monday in Mexico the second round of their peace negotiations, in which they want to reach an agreement to declare a mutual ceasefire of fire.

What is needed is not only the “de-escalation of armed conflicts”, but also the “reduction of hostilities against the civilian population and illegal activities that cause damage and violence”, emphasized the head of the government delegation Otti Patinho.

The talks are being resumed with “determination” in order to achieve “complete and lasting peace”, which goes through the “declaration of a bilateral, temporary and national cease-fire”, summed up the head of the rebel delegation Pablo Beltran.

In any case, however, the second round of talks in Mexico will not mean “automatic disarmament of the rebels”, he warned.

For Mr. Patinhos, agreements must be closed and “implemented”, “we need to achieve results”.

However, for Mr. Beltran, it is requested that “the economy and the state be put at the service of society”: “this is the main change we are fighting for”, to achieve “peace with justice”.

Brazil was “recently” added to the guarantor powers of the peace negotiations – Chile, Venezuela, Norway, Mexico – said a statement from the government of President Gustavo Petros released last Sunday. European countries “accompany” the dialogue (Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Spain), as well as the Secretary General of the UN and the permanent holy synod of the Roman Catholic bishops of Colombia, according to the same source.

Government-rebel peace talks resumed in Caracas in November after a nearly four-year hiatus.

The first round ended in December, with announcements of hostage releases and humanitarian initiatives, but no ceasefire agreement.

Hostilities, misinterpretations and tensions cooled the relations of the two sides again at the beginning of the year.

Nine members of the ELN were killed in an operation by the Colombian army’s special forces, the Chief of the General Staff of the National Defense of Colombia, General Elder Giraldo, announced on January 30.

On New Year’s Day, President Pedro announced a six-month mutual ceasefire with five armed organizations—including the ELN—and drug-trafficking gangs. But three days later, the ELN denied that there was such an agreement with the government. He clarified that a ceasefire had simply been proposed, without his delegation agreeing. Bogota canceled the ceasefire three days later, admitting it had misunderstood the rebels’ position.

The ELN, founded in 1964 by radicalized Roman Catholic priests, students and workers, inspired by the work of Che Guevara and the revolution in Cuba, as well as by liberation theology, is considered the last guerrilla organization to continue the armed struggle in Colombia, after the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a peace deal with the then-government in 2016.

According to estimates by the authorities and independent analysts, it has 2,500-3,500 fighters, compared to about 1,800 when the peace negotiations began, and a wide network of collaborators and sympathizers. The organization, with a “federal” structure, is present in 22 of the country’s 32 provinces, mainly in areas of Colombia that are washed by the Pacific, as well as in sectors of the porous border with Venezuela, which is 2,200 kilometers long.

The ELN has held peace talks — without success — with the last five presidents of the Latin American country.