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Latan Brief: Third round of Colombia-ELN peace talks begins (May 3, 2023)

Latin America Daily Briefing

The most recent round of negotiations between Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group began yesterday in Havana, Cuba. Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Norway, and Brazil were also present and are overseeing the talks. Colombian president Gustavo Petro is seeking a gradual ceasefire with the ELN, to be extended as negotiations continue, reports Al Jazeera. The ceasefire would begin regionally and expand nationally over time. Pablo Beltran, the head of the ELN delegation, confirmed that “For now, there is no ceasefire. And operations on both sides continue,” though he also believes that dialogue under Petro is possible and that the ELN feels “like partners of the government.” 

AFP reports that both parties agreed on the importance of the inclusion of civil society during the peace talks, and will seek to continue the conversations begun previously in Venezuela and Mexico. The most recent attempt at negotiations had occurred in March of this year, although it halted shortly after, due to an ELN car bomb attack in Bogotá that killed 22 people, including 9 Colombian soldiers. 

“Other key items on the agenda will be the matter of humanitarian relief and the involvement of civil society organizations in the process,” according to La Prensa Gráfica. Cuba has hosted previous negotiations between the two parties since the 1990s, most recently under former Colombian president Iván Duque. 

Mexico

  • US President Biden is set to send 1,500 US soldiers to the border with Mexico on May 11, reports El País. The soldiers will be tasked with supporting administrative efforts of US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).  

Brazil

  • “Brazilian police on Wednesday raided former President Jair Bolsonaro’s home and arrested two personal aides as part of an investigation into falsified COVID-19 vaccination records,” reports Reuters.

  • “Brazil’s Congress is weighing a regulatory bill that would shift the burden onto internet companies to report illegal content on their sites, a controversial initiative that has pitted the administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva against major tech companies such as Google. On Tuesday, Google was forced to remove a link on its home page in Brazil that advocated against Bill 2630, also known as the Fake News Law,” reports Al Jazeera, comparing the Brazilian bill to the European Union’s Digital Services Act. 

Peru

  • New demonstrations in Peru to protest against the current Boluarte government will likely take place on July 19, according to Telesur

Paraguay

  • In an interview with BBC, newly-elected President-elect Santiago Peña says that his administration will seek to reestablish diplomatic ties with Venezuela, following a break in relations under Mario Abdo. 

Chile

  • A poll by Pulso Ciudadano reveals that more than 60% of the Chilean population has little to no confidence in the country’s new constitutional reform process, says Infobae

  • “Chile has moved to take state control of key lithium projects in an attempt to develop its vast resources of the key electric car battery metal after decades of two industry leaders dominating production,” spooking investors, says FT

Guatemala

  • On Tuesday, the trial against outspoken government critic José Rubén Zamora, owner of El Periódico newspaper, began in Guatemala. The New Yorker notes how Zamora’s controversial arrest and subsequent charges have caused concern about free speech in the country.  

  • Reuters reports, “Businessman and political newcomer Carlos Pineda was the top choice of voters ahead of Guatemala’s June 25 presidential election in a poll released on Tuesday, with former first lady Sandra Torres second and veteran diplomat Edmond Mulet third.” 

  • Political parties will list their candidates for Congress on ballots following public outcries over an announcement that they would halt the practice, reports Prensa Libre

Regional Relations

  • “Brazil offered on Tuesday to help cash-strapped Argentina and provide support to Brazilian exporters so that they can continue to sell to the neighboring country, their main exporting market for manufactured goods,” reports Reuters.

Argentina 

  • Infobae highlights the fact that Alberto Fernández is set to end his presidential term without a single general strike, in contrast to the administrations of Raúl Alfonsín, Fernando de la Rúa, and Mauricio Macri. 

Honduras

  • The Guardian covers dangerous lobster diving among Indigenous Moskito in Honduras, noting that one in nine men over the age of 14 have “suffered disabling injuries as a consequence of decompression sickness.”

Arianna Kohan y Jordi Amaral / Latin America Daily Briefing
http://latinamericadailybriefing.blogspot

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