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Colombians march to protest against President Juan Manuel Santos' government and peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Bogota, April 2, 2016 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

A Three-Player Chess Game: Colombia’s Peace Talks With ELN—and FARC

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Colombia is inching closer to a future free of armed guerrilla groups. Talks with the 52-year-old, 7,000-person Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are far along, even though they missed a March 23 deadline for a final accord. Government and FARC negotiators in Havana have reached agreements on most of the negotiating agenda, and they are probably weeks away from a bilateral cease-fire with U.N. verification.

The FARC, though, isn’t the only guerrilla organization in Colombia whose origins date back to 1964. The National Liberation Army, or ELN, has about 1,800 fighters plus a larger support network and is active in a few regions of the country. But it has not been in formal peace negotiations, despite more than two years of exploratory “talks about talks” with Bogota. The prospect of continued war with the ELN has threatened to dampen the impact of a FARC peace deal: If still at large, the smaller guerrilla group could recruit former FARC fighters and move into previously FARC-dominated territories. ...

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