Colombia’s government and FARC rebels are only “days away” from agreeing to a bilateral ceasefire, one of the guerrilla negotiators said in an interview that was published Sunday.
FARC commander and peace negotiator “Carlos Antonio Lozada” told Communist weekly Voz that the two delegations are “very close” to a bilateral ceasefire that has been on the negotiation table since late 2014.
The two delegations are negotiating an end to Colombia’s 51-year-old armed conflict in Havana, Cuba.
“You’re already feeling the end of the armed confrontation,” Lozada told Voz, adding that mutual efforts to reduce violence while negotiating has resulted in a “de facto ceasefire” that only needs agreement on details before becoming formal.
The guerrillas have largely upheld a unilateral ceasefire since July last year and the military has focused its attention on the smaller ELN guerrilla group and the Urabeños, one of the groups formed by right-wing paramilitaries who remained in arms after the demobilization of the AUC between 2003 and 2006.
FARC negotiators have been visiting guerrilla units for weeks in an attempt to “sell” the pending peace agreement to rank and file guerrillas ahead of the bilateral ceasefire that could be paired with the beginning of the demobilization and disarmament of Colombia’s longest living rebel group.
While the FARC leadership is trying to convince skeptics within the organization to agree with the agreements made with the government so far, President Juan Manuel Santos is trying to do the same with the Colombian public, but with mixed success.
While the president can count on broad political support, the majority of Colombians have yet to be convinced that the ongoing peace talks will result both peace and justice.
Following decades of atrocities and polarized partisan propaganda, both the guerrillas and the government now have to convince their base to agree to meeting with the enemy in the middle.
The talks have been ongoing since November 2012 and will end the hemisphere’s longest running conflict if successful.