Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, has violated their unilateral ceasefire that began on July 20 on nine occasions, according to the country’s conservative opposition.
The rebel group called the unilateral ceasefire in an attempt to deescalate violence while the Marxist guerrillas negotiate with the administration of Juan Manuel Santos the end of their 51-year-long uprising.
Senators Alfredo Rangel, Jose Obdulio Gaviria, Paloma Valencia and Jaime Amin presented evidence that they compiled, which they say demonstrates that the FARC violated the unilateral ceasefire on nine occasions. The senators are all members of Democratic Center, the conservative party formed and led by former President Alvaro Uribe.
The Santos administration has been engaged the FARC in peace talks in Havana since 2012. Uribe and his party are vocal critics of the negotiations with the leftist guerrillas, claiming that security in Colombia has weakened during peace talks with the group that began in November 2012.
In a debate held with the High Commissioner of Peace Sergio Jaramillo, the government’s lead representative in the peace talks, as well as Minister of Defense Luis Carlos Villegas, the senators from the Democratic Center presented evidence they compiled of nine “terrorist actions” they attribute to the FARC in the first month of the ceasefire.
The Democratic Center’s claims dispute the findings of the Resource Center for Conflict Analysis (CERAC) that has been monitoring the deescalation efforts and recorded only three violent actions attributable to the FARC in the period of July 20 to September 1. According to CERAC, there are three other violent actions that are pending verification, that the senators assert are attributable to the FARC.
Given that at least three actions can be attributable to the FARC, the senators pressed Jaramillo to explain how violent actions can continue during a ceasefire.
“One thing is a ceasefire and a bilateral and definitive cessation of hostilities, and another is the de-escalation that precedes it,” the High Commissioner responded.
According to Senator Rangel, this will jeopardize the security of Colombia and “give more leeway to the terrorist groups and criminal groups of all kinds.”
As part of the ceasefire, Colombia has suspended bombing operations on FARC camps, which according to the Democratic Center senators has resulted in the return of the FARC in areas they were not active in the period before the ceasefire.
“Figures show that there has been expansion, strengthening, a return to many municipalities where they had been expelled,” Rangel claimed.