In support of peace in Colombia: commitment, consistency and responsibility

- Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of #Cuba

The Embassy of Cuba in Colombia received information -whose credibility could not be assessed- in relation to an alleged military attack by the Oriental War Front of the ELN that would take place in the course of the next few days in Bogotá.

The ELN’s Peace Delegation in Havana was immediately advised of said information. The ELN’s Peace Delegation claimed it was completely unaware of it and provided reiterated assurances that it had absolutely no involvement in the military decisions or operations of the organization. Given the nature of such information, related to a possible action that might jeopardize the life of innocent persons, the Cuban ambassador, José Luis Ponce, immediately received instructions. Consequently, he requested, on Saturday, February 6, at 07:49 p.m., a meeting with the Colombian Foreign Minister, Claudia Blum, or any designated official to convey this sensitive and urgent information about a possible attack in Colombia.

At 08:39 p.m., the Cuban ambassador managed to contact Deputy Foreign Minister Francisco Echeverry, but since he was out of the capital he could only received advance information by phone, which he appreciated. During that phone call, despite our express interest in having a meeting immediately, the Deputy Foreign Minister scheduled a meeting with the Cuban ambassador for Monday, February 8, at 10:00 a.m.

The meeting, due to a decision adopted by the Colombian authorities, was finally held at 05:15 pm on that same Monday, during which the Cuban ambassador handed over to the Deputy Foreign Minister a Memorandum that contained the information that had been relayed to our embassy. At that moment we realized, to our surprise, that a highly sensitive security issue, which was dealt with utmost discretion and urgency by our country, had been immediately disclosed to the media. Twenty five minutes after Cuba had submitted the Memorandum, the Colombian media was already using the information and had published a copy of the very document.

On Thursday, February 11, at 06:30 p.m., our ambassador in Bogotá was finally received by the Foreign Minister and other high officials of the Colombian government. Three days before, on February 8, at 08:00 a.m. the High Commissioner for Peace, in a press release, had used this sensitive information about a security issue as a pretext to attack Cuba based on mendacious allegations, with the usual hostility and approach that only tend to kindle the differences between both governments and hamper the participation of international actors in the peace process.

Cuba ignores whether the Colombian authorities proceeded to carry out any investigation; quickly disregarded the information or already knew about it. Cuba’s stand regarding the Colombian government demands that Cuba extradites the ELN’s Peace Delegation members who remain in Havana, of which Colombia is responsible, has been established and informed in private and also through official and public channels.

Cuba will strictly abide by its obligation, as Guarantor and venue of the Peace Dialogue, to guarantee the safe return of the ELN’s Peace Delegation, as established under the Breakup Protocol of said negotiations that was agreed upon and signed by the Colombian government, the ELN and six other States on April 5, 2016. As the Colombian government is aware of, such stand enjoys the broadest support from the international community, which has engaged in direct negotiations with the Colombian government in favor of its implementation.

Cuba is being continuously challenged to violate the agreements that were signed, and that is contrary to International Law.

Our country will invariably uphold a rigorous and discreet behavior, firmly adhering to principles, as has been demonstrated after decades of participating in efforts to bring peace to Colombia. We reaffirm our willingness and commitment to continue cooperating with those sectors that are committed to find a negotiated solution to the Colombian armed conflict in order to achieve peace.

In this regard, we reiterate our concerns over non-compliance and unilateral attempts to modify the Peace Agreements signed with FARC-EP, as well as the increasing number of murders and massacres of ex guerrilla members, social leaders and human rights defenders in Colombia.

Cuba has been patient and prudent. We expect that, at some point, the will for peace; the legitimate interests and free determination of the Colombian people as well as good sense and reason shall prevail.

Havana, February 13, 2021.
 

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