Rebel group FARC needs to take greater actions for peace in order to achieve the de-escalation of violence and bilateral ceasefire, said the head of the government’s negotiating team in Cuba on Monday.
In a press statement, the head of the government delegation Humberto De la Calle in Havana warned that the road towards a bilateral deal was very complex and that the negotiations were still some distance away from agreeing a ceasefire.
De la Calle also called for Colombian society to open the road to peace, stressing that “we must all sacrifice something, none of this is easy. Will and altruism is required.”
He warned that “peace will not be a fortuitous gift” and told the population “that every Colombian should understand that they must contribute their share of sacrifice in the way of burying forever the long journey of grief that over fifty years has overshadowed the lives of everyone.”
The final stretch to a truce
According to the government’s chief negotiator, his team and members of the FARC met over the weekend to discuss the steps that are pending to come to a bilateral truce.
“Between January 15 and 18, representatives of the delegations of the Government of the Republic of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army held meetings to exchange initial views on the points still to be agreed and to work out a methodology to follow in the next meetings.”
In a joint statement made over the weekend, both the government and the FARC said the next formal round of peace talks will begin on February 2 instead of the planned January 26. The aim of these discussions will be to agree on an indefinite bilateral ceasefire while continuing ongoing negotiations on what to do with the more than 7 million victims of the conflict.
The negotiators have officially been on recess since the middle of December.
Santos says truce not yet decreed
President Juan Manuel Santos announced that a bilateral and definitive ceasefire depends on a variety of factors which still need to be defined on the negotiating table. However, Santos stated that his instruction remains to be to begin discussing the bilateral cease fire immediately.
“This doesn’t mean that the bilateral and indefinite ceasefire has been decreed,” said Santos.
“What I want is that starting now we begin talking with the commission of the FARC about what this bilateral and definitive ceasefire will be like, so we have this ready and, in due time if we can apply this immediately,” Santos explained.
The planned truce would follow more than two years of negotiating between Colombia’s largest rebel group and the state during which partial agreements were reached on political participation, rural reform and drug trafficking.
If successful, the peace deal will end 50 years of violence between the FARC and the state in a war that according to official estimates has cost the lives of more than 900,000 Colombians and displaced more than 6 million, or 13% of the population.
- Declaración del Jefe de la Delegación del Gobierno de Colombia, Humberto De la Calle (President’s Office)
- El 2015 será un año de retos y desafíos: Presidente Santos (President’s Office)