Gustavo Bell: new Head of ELN peace negotiations

The main goal is to extend ceasefire between Colombian Army and the guerrilla


Gustavo Bell


Leer en Español: Gustavo Bell: ¿cuáles son sus retos como nuevo negociador con el ELN?


Tuesday December 20, President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, announced that Gustavo Bell will be the new head of the Colombian delegation in the peace negotiations with the ELN –National Liberation Army-.


The guerrilla, which has been active since 1964, reacted positively to the nomination. Hence, thought their Twitter account,  ELN sent a direct message to Bell acknowledging his selection. “Mr. Gustavo Bell: the militancy of the ELN welcomes you to the dialogues in Quito, Ecuador. Like clear majority of compatriots, we hope to move towards a peace with deep transformations. Let's build together a strategy to get violence out of politics,” wrote the guerrilla.


Bell has entered to the peace negotiations as a replacement of Juan Carlos Restrepo, who acted as the Head of the Government for a year. Restrepo was Minister of Agriculture in Santos' government. Before being Minister, he exercised as Bank Superintendent and Manager of the National Coffeemakers Federation, and he had performed other public positions. Restrepo announced his retirement after accepting an offer at the Arbitration Court in the Chamber of Commerce of Paris.


Gustavo Bell, who is a recognized journalist, historian, lawyer and current ambassador at Cuba, played an important role thought the 4-year peace negotiations with the FARC-EP in Havana, Cuba. Also, the new negotiator is known for acting as Vice-President during Andrés Pastrana’s Office, where he participated on the failed peace negotiations with FARC. Later, he was Minister of Defense during Alvaro Uribe’s first period in 2002.


Bell has joined the negotiations with the guerrilla in a moment where the crossfire is the main subject to analyze and establish mechanisms to avoid it. Especially, Bells' role will be fundamental if it is considered that the ceasefire is going to expire the next 9th of January 2018. Although there are several obstacles to prolong the ceasefire between ELN and the Colombian Army, his first goal must be to reach an agreement to enlarge the armistice.  


The ELN guerrilla is an insurgent organization that operates in Colombia. It is defined as Marxist-Leninist and Pro-Cuban revolution. They are participants in the Colombian armed conflict since its formation 53 years ago. and it had been led by emblematic public figures such as the priests Camilo Torres (1929-1966) and Manuel Pérez (1943-1998). Today, the guerrilla is directed by the Central Command, integrated by five members, including the current Head of the ELN, Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista alias "Gabino". ELN is considered a terrorist organization by different countries such as Colombia, Peru, United States, Canada, and the European Union. As well as other guerrilla organizations, the ELN has stage-managed several attacks toward the civil society and has been related to drug and arms’ traffic, as well as illegal mining. Currently, the guerrilla has approximately 1,500 active members spread along the Colombian territory. 


LatinAmerican Post | Andrea Mariño

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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