Colombia's peace process: 'An ongoing tug of war'

MEDELLIN, Colombia – Colombian militant group FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, announced last Thursday the militia would suspend any attacks and hostilities against civilians and the Colombian military forces for an entire month, effective July 20, 2015.

People of Cali, Colombia, protesting against the Farc. Photo credit: bbc.co.uk

People of Cali, Colombia, protesting against the Farc. Photo credit: bbc.co.uk

Ivan Marquez, FARC’s spokesperson, spoke at a new meeting held in Havana, Cuba, continuing with peace negotiation talks between the armed group and the Colombian government.

“Picking up the call from the warrants of the process, Cuba and Norway (…) we announce our disposition to order a unilateral cease fire effective July 20, for an entire month,” he said. “With this we look to generate favorable conditions to advance with our counterpart the concretion of a bilateral and definitive ceasefire.”

The announcement came after a month of heated military actions between the Colombian forces and the militia, when a previous unilateral ceasefire from December last year ended early on May 22. The previous ceasefire was halted as a result of an airstrike ordered by the government that killed 26 members of the terrorist group, reports said. The government’s strategic airstrikes resumed in response to a violation to the previous ceasefire, when FARC members killed 11 soldiers late April in an ambush.

Since November 2012, ongoing peace talks in Havana continue where both the Colombian government and the guerilla look to finalize an agreement to end a conflict that dates back to the 1960s when the militant group was formed.

President Santos valued FARC’s announcement as a good gesture, but urged for more commitment and compromise to expedite peace talks.

“[We] value [the] gesture of a unilateral cease fire by FARC but more is needed, especially concrete agreements to accelerate negotiations,” the president said. “If the ceasefire comes with a series of concrete agreements about justice and a definitive bilateral ceasefire, then we would be witnessing a very serious and important step in the attainment of peace.”

FARC CHILD SOLDIER. PHOTO CREDIT: justiceinconflict.org

FARC CHILD SOLDIER. PHOTO CREDIT: justiceinconflict.org

Since last May 22, when they suspended the previous ceasefire, FARC has intensified its terrorist actions, targeting oil and energy infrastructure throughout the country, leaving hundreds of thousands of crude spilled, various towns without electricity and over 100 members of the military dead, reports concluded.

United Nations delegates in Colombia released a document last Wednesday in which they label this new ceasefire as “significant” in advancing peace talks.

“It is a very significant first step towards the descaling of hostilities” the text states. “We hope that this measure, like the previous unilateral ceasefires by FARC, will have a positive impact in alleviating the suffering of civilian population and help strengthen the confidence in the peace process.”

cartoon credit: Paresh Nath/Cagle Cartoons, 2014