The report highlights that in the last nine months there has been a major deescalation in what was once Latin America’s longest-running internal conflict.
In the nine month period, the conflict monitor recorded “a fight between the FARC and the public force; a fight between the FARC and dissident groups; a murder by the FARC of a dissident; the kidnapping of a civilian by the FARC; and the rape of a minor by a member of the Army.”
The dramatic reduction in violent incidents was welcomed by CERAC director Jorge Restrepo, particularly as both sides admitted wrong-doings concerning the breaches. Restrepo concluded that there was no desire on either side to return to hostilities.
“That is to say, there is no evidence that they are seeking to return to the use of force or to forge a break that brings about a return to armed conflict,” he said to El Espectador.
Democratic Pole senator, Ivan Cepeda echoed similar sentiments. While the senator urged continued caution, he welcomed the dramatic deescalation of violence.
“Of course, they raise concerns, we need to strengthen the verification mechanism, but when compared with the lives that have been saved, it is very little,” said Senator Cepeda.
The latest threat to the ceasefire came on Wednesday when an army captain was injured after he and at least one subordinate had “accidentally” entered a FARC demobilization camp in the southern province of Guaviare.
The captain was shot by guerrillas after he and his subordinate entered the security ring in what Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas called a “military error.”
According to the minister, the military members got lost in the jungle area after nightfall and accidentally entered the off-limits protection ring put in place half a year ago to prevent violent confrontations between the demobilizing guerrillas and the military.
According to the CERAC report, the army’s entry into that demobilization zone added to two other incidents “possibly violating the protocols” that are under investigation occurring in May.
While the FARC are steadily working towards disarmament and demobilization, the main threat to public security and peace continue to be paramilitary groups who formally disarmed under former President Alvaro Uribe between 2003 and 2006 and have since grown to become between 3,000 and 8,000 men and women.
The groups are reportedly responsible for dozens of murders of community leaders and human rights activists since the signing of the peace accord in November last year.
The majority of these killings took place in former FARC territory where, in the absence of the state and state forces, illegal armed groups are trying to fill the void left by the demobilizing guerrillas and take over the guerrillas’ abandoned illegal activities like drug trafficking and illegal mining.
While the strong compliance with the ceasefire has created favorable conditions for the demobilization of the FARC, the long term successful implementation of the peace deal will hinge on the government’s willingness and ability to curb the paramilitary threat.
The FARC has been fighting the Colombian state since 1964 in an armed conflict that has left more than 265,000 Colombians, primarily civilians, dead.