Santos accepts with ‘prudence’ Mujica’s offer to host peace talks with Colombia’s ELN guerrilla
President Juan Manuel Santos was grateful and ‘accepted with prudence’ his Uruguayan peer Jose Mujica offer to host a peace-talks process in Montevideo with the other big guerrilla movement in Colombia, the ELN, National Liberation Army
“It’s an issue we must discuss with the counterpart and in this kind of situations you must be very prudent because decisions are joint decisions”, said Santos before the press following the meeting with Mujica in New York, in the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly.
Mujica told Santos that Uruguay is open for Montevideo to be the seat of peace negotiations in the event such understanding can be reached with the ELN guerrillas, “and so is the wish of the Colombian people”. He invited all sides to take advantage of the contribution opportunity, “in everything that is possible so resolve a conflict that has taken too much time”.
The Uruguayan president has been insisting with helping the peace process in Colombia and it figures high in the foreign policy agenda of his government.
The Colombian government is already in a peace process with the main guerrilla group, Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia, FARC, which are taking place in Havana sponsored by Cuba and Norway, with the support of Chile and Venezuela.
Mujica has good relations with the Colombian government, his efforts are appreciated, and so he has with Cuba, in his recent visit to Havana he met both Raul and Fidel Castro, and given his urban guerrilla background is respected by the guerrilla organizations in Colombia, some of them battling for over half a century.
“We have no problem with the political cost of hosting and sponsoring peace talks; that is part of Uruguay’s history”, underlined President Mujica.
Later in the afternoon the Uruguayan leader held a protocol 18 minutes meeting with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Uruguay is a main contributor to UN peace force contingents and has troops deployed in Africa, Asia, Middle East and Haiti. Likewise Uruguay is pioneering in a project to legalize soft drugs in an effort to combat the illegal narcotics trade, which for a growing world public opinion in its current focus has failed.
In the evening Mujica was scheduled to attend the official reception which US president Barrack Obama is hosting for all the world leaders participating at the 68th UN General Assembly.
Earlier in the day Mujica had lunch and a long conversation with the president of the Open Society Foundation, billionaire George Soros, with whom they discussed Uruguayan legislation relative to marihuana and how to combat narcotics traffic.
According to the Uruguayan Executive media officer Soros admitted to be following closely Uruguay’s pioneering in regulating the consumption of marihuana as part of a major campaign to combat the drugs trade. He also offered help with educational programs directed to combat narcotics trade.
“Soros insists that the overall policy against drugs is not working and believes that the process to help identify those who could be sick because of consumption is a way of helping to limit the influence of the drugs trade”, said the Uruguayan government spokesperson.
Apparently Soros has plans to visit Uruguay and continue collaborating in the campaign to regulate the marihuana market. He added that the Uruguayan example together with those of the states of Colorado and Washington are being closely monitored worldwide.
“We are well aware that Uruguay is acting as a lab and if the experience is successful it can be useful to all the world. Every body is watching you”, said Soros.
On Tuesday afternoon President Mujica will be addressing the UN General Assembly. The first speech of the long round will be from Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff who is expected to address the United States cyber-spying and to demand new mechanisms to help avoid such sophisticated illegal intervention in different countries, in this case the Brazilian government, and Brazilian corporations.
Rousseff will be followed by US President Barack Obama and also in the afternoon Cristina Fernandez will be addressing the UN assembly.