On Friday, May 22, the FARC announced the end of its unilateral ceasefire with the Colombian government. The end of the ceasefire was announced after an air raid in Guapi, Cauca Department, killed 26 of the FARC guerrillas.
The FARC declared the ceasefire in December of 2014, and have been urging the government to do the same ever since. The Colombian government did suspend their bombing campaign in March, but resumed it in April after an attack in Cauca killed 10 Colombian soldiers. The 29th Front, the FARC branch in Cauca, has been the target of a sustained campaign by the Colombian government to combat drug trafficking and illegal mining.
When announcing the end of the ceasefire, the FARC spokesman said, “It was not in our plans to suspend the unilateral and indefinite ceasefire proclaimed on December 20, 2014 as a humanitarian gesture of de-escalation of the conflict, but the inconsistency of the Santos government has done so.” The FARC will resume strikes on infrastructure and military targets in Colombia.
The end of the ceasefire occurred only hours after the beginning of the 37th round of peace talks in Havana, Cuba. The talks have been going on since November, 2012, with the FARC regularly accusing the Colombian government of “incoherence,” and of course blaming them for any setbacks. That said, the FARC may have started a unilateral ceasefire in December, but they have not backed off any of their illegal activities (to include drug trafficking, illegal mining, and extortion) since, which has strengthened Colombian public opinion in favor of continuing to fight them. However, in spite of the bloodshed, both the FARC and the Colombian government insist they are still committed to the peace talks.
The second largest rebel group in Colombia, the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (National Liberation Army) has announced its support for the FARC’s official resumption of hostilities. “The National Liberation Army stands in solidarity and sorrow with the sister organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia organization, with the families and friends of nearly 30 guerrillas, killed by the hands of the armed forces of the state, on 22 May in Guapi, Cauca.”
The ELN is in a precarious position in regards to the peace process, as peace with the government would mean abandoning their primary forms of revenue—kidnapping and extortion. Nevertheless, the ELN entered into peace talks with the government in June of 2014, lest they be left as the sole rebel group if the FARC and the government were to reach an accord.
As has been mentioned before, while the peace talks are continuing, both sides are insisting on conditions that the other is not willing to compromise on. The FARC essentially wants the slate wiped clean and complete amnesty for all of their illegal activities. The government won’t accept that, especially as many FARC figures are wanted by the United States. Since this is not the first time the FARC has entered into peace talks with the government, and their “ceasefire” has been broken and is now discarded, it must still be wondered if the peace talks are not an attempt to buy time and breathing space in the wake of Plan Colombia.
Time will tell.
Featured image courtesy of yalejournal.org
Note: Peter Nealen’s latest American Praetorians thriller, “The Devil You Don’t Know,” is available for pre-order here.