Espectador Interviews Eduardo Pizarro, Author of ‘Cambiar el Futuro’, Discussing Colombia’s Peace Processes Since ’78 (S)
Renowned academic and author of several books, brother and adviser of former M-19 Commander Carlos Pizarro Leongómez, murdered in 1991 after leading his organization to a peace deal, Eduardo Pizarro Leongómez recently published ‘Cambiar el Futuro’, which discusses the many attempts to seek peace agreements in Colombia since 1978. In the following excerpts, Mr. Pizarro discusses the undergoing peace talks with ELN, Colombia’s other guerrilla organization.
What do you think of the current peace talks with the ELN? Dialogues with ELN are highly complex for three fundamental reasons. FARC, as a Marxist-Leninist organization founded on the basis of democratic centralism, has a vertical command structure, so that decisions made by FARC’s secretariat were compulsive for the rank and file. In the case of ELN, it is a federation of regional political and military leaders and achieving consensus is infinitely more complex.
Second: FARC accepted, in the exploratory phase, a limited and pragmatic agenda of 6 points, which had a central point, the agrarian issue, while other points related to moving from weapons to politics. On the other hand, the agenda with ELN is much more fluid because it is not defined, and it is going to be defined by civil society, which can touch a broad range of issues.
Third: It refers to the international context. I’m worried about what is happening in Venezuela. In the unfortunate eventuality of a civil war, ELN would be heavily involved because seventy percent of its forces are on the border, and has very deep links with the Bolivarian militias. At the last congress of that organization, which was held last year, they said that their future could be defined in Venezuela and not in Quito, [where talks are currently being held]. This is creating difficulties in Colombia and for the current negotiations because obviously the only real border of Venezuela is Colombia, the border with Brazil is jungle. If there is a collapse in Venezuela the country taffected will be Colombia. El Espectador