(Bloomberg) -- Colombia’s government agreed a cease-fire with the nation’s oldest guerrilla group, as the two sides meet in Cuba seeking a deal to end six decades of fighting.
President Gustavo Petro announced the agreement with the the National Liberation Army, or ELN, at a ceremony in Havana. ELN leader Antonio García and Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel also attended the event.
Talks between Colombia’s government and the ELN resumed shortly after Petro was elected in 2022 as the nation’s first leftist leader. Petro is himself a former rebel from a different guerrilla faction, who demobilized and embraced democratic politics more than 30 years ago.
“In a way this marks the end of the phase of armed insurgency in Latin America,” Petro said from Cuba.
Several previous attempts by Colombian governments to reach a deal with the ELN have failed.
Petro has sought international backing for his “Total Peace” plan, in which he hopes that through talks with the ELN, other guerrilla groups, and drug cartels, he can finally end the internal conflict.
The ELN was founded in 1964 by students inspired by the Cuban revolution and Catholic priests steeped in liberation theology. The group has funded itself through kidnapping and extortion, and often waged war on oil companies, including by blowing up pipelines.
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