dpa - german news agency
dpa Report, 1st July 1998,
Mauss: Peace for Colombia within reach
Private Agent Mauss: Peace for Colombia within reach
Stuttgart (dpa/lsw) – According to German private special agent Werner Mauss, a ceasefire in Colombia is “within reach”. “The bloodshed could soon be at an end”, said Mauss in an interview with the German press agency (dpa). Agreement could be achieved as early as the next meeting between members of Colombia’s National Peace Commission and the country’s second largest guerrilla group (National Liberation Army/ELN). “It is time to call a halt and see that the trenches are filled in”, said Mauss.
The German made the headlines in 1996 when he and his wife were arrested while attempting to leave the country with a German hostage. According to Mauss, the woman had been kidnapped by criminals and was then freed by the ELN. For the escape to Germany Mauss wanted to use legally issued passports with another identity. According to Colombian president Ernesto Samper, Mauss was involved in the setting up of the Mainz peace talks. Mauss himself claims that in a series of talks held in the Colombian guerrilla camps of the ELN since last December he managed to win acceptance for the Mainz meeting.
According to Mauss, “between 35 and 50 people” were to attend a meeting over at least three days in mid-June. The second round of peace talks will, like the first which took place last Sunday, also be under the auspices of the German Conference of Bishops. According to Mauss, six representatives of the ELN central command will be present along with Alberto Giraldo, president of the Colombian conference of Bishops, the editor and journalist “Pacho” Santos and the Nobel Prize-winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
“I am very optimistic”, Mauss told the dpa over the telephone. “The biggest hurdle remains the guerrilleros demand that a committee of enquiry be set up by the government to investigate the death squads and massacres.” In addition, the ELN wants recognition as a political organisation. “The first meeting was a great success, and almost achieved a peace agreement”, says Mauss. At the wish of the parties involved in the conflict, he is to take on the role of mediator between them in the future.
The various internal conflicts have claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people in Colombia since the 1960’s. Mauss himself believes that many lives could have been saved had he not been arrested in November 1996. “The guerilleros were ready to come to the peace table and sign the ceasefire agreement.” Mauss describes himself as “completely vindicated” following his release from prison in Colombia. The country’s Prosecutor General has confirmed that Mauss violated no Colombian laws. At least 20 state prosecutors and police personnel involved in investigating him have since been dismissed. The qualified agronomist turned detective Mauss declared: “I never work with guns or fists, I use only my head”.