Violence related to Colombia’s armed conflict dropped 40% in 2014 in spite of an increase in attacks carried out by the country’s second largest rebel group ELN, a report released on Thursday said.
According to the annual conflict monitoring report of the Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation (PARES), the intensity of the conflict dropped drastically due to progress made in ongoing peace talks with the FARC and the group’s unilateral ceasefires that kept the country’s largest guerrilla organization from carrying out violent attacks for eight weeks.
In total, the FARC carried out 1,186 armed attacks in 2014, compared to 2,003 the year before. The smaller ELN carried out 386 attacks last year against 349 in 2013.
The investigators noticed a correlation between progress made in these talks and FARC violence.
“When the negotiations progress significantly the attacks of the FARC diminish and when the talks are paralyzed, the confrontation steps up,” said PARES.
The ELN, currently holding exploratory peace talks with the Colombian government, continued to increase its offensive actions to a total of 386.
The group possibly increased its military activity to use the show of military force to strengthen its negotiation position.
The Colombian military last year also carried out less offensives compared to 2013, PARES claimed.
The decrease in guerrilla attacks resulted in a significant, 20% drop of soldiers killed in conflict. While in 2013, the number of killed soldiers exceeded that of the numbers of guerrillas killed in combat, this balance again flipped in 2014.
Soldiers and guerrillas killed in combat
The armed conflict
The apparent de-escalation of Colombia’s armed conflict has also resulted in a significant drop in civilian victims. Civilian victims of landmines dropped 47% to 86 in 2014, according to the Defense Ministry.
Displacement dropped 57% even, according to data derived from the National Victim’s Unit. According to PARES, less than 100 thousand Colombians were forced to abandon their home. In 2013 this was almost 230 thousand.
Outlook for 2015
Since the FARC was actively engaged in offensive actions for most of 2014 — with the exception of the eight weeks the rebels maintained a unilateral ceasefire — PARES said it expects the intensity of the conflict to plummet in 2015 due to the unilateral ceasefire called on December 20 last year.
According to the report, the FARC has been able to maintain control over their units who have respected their previous ceasefires with the exception of a handful of incidents.
The peace talks that have spurred the FARC ceasefires have been ongoing since 2012.
The guerrillas are currently negotiating with the Colombian military to come to an agreement on an indefinite bilateral truce, which could come into effect before the warring parties sign peace.
But apart from this ceasefire, the FARC and the government also have to agree on who will take responsibility for the 7 million victims of the conflict and the punishment of FARC and military crimes.
If both pending points are agreed, the parties would proceed to the implementation of the agreement, meaning the 50-year-long war between the FARC and the state would be over.
Lo que hemos ganado (Peace and Reconciliation Foundation)