After having breached its unilateral ceasefire, rebel group FARC must demonstrate anew their commitment to Colombia’s peace process, United States Special Envoy Bernard Aronson said in an interview published Wednesday.
The most recent outbreak of violence in Cauca that left 11 Colombian soldiers dead was “a big blow” that could threaten the peace talks, according to Aronson.
Acknowledging that though there are questions as to what actually occurred that night in Cauca, Aronson reiterated that the responsibility to show renewed commitment to peace currently falls on the FARC.
Recent progress on the subjects of demining and identification of individuals buried in mass graves were signals of tangible progress, but a larger show of faith is still necessary, said Aronson.
Aronson suggested this show of faith could be a comprehensive agreement on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, complete with strict timelines, an agreement that could include the bilateral ceasefire long demanded by the FARC.
The presence of the US Special Envoy also shed some light on the United States’ intentions with regard to transitional justice, a thorny subject for FARC negotiators who have so far refused to go to prison in spite of their suspected responsibility for numerous war crimes.
Aronson explained that there are several international bodies that have jurisdiction over abuses and war crimes committed in Colombia’s conflict may the country’s own justice system fail to bring justice to victims.
The US envoy suggested that also Washington would not be satisfied with a carte blanche immunity for the worst offenders on both sides.
Aronson did say that there is precedent for armed groups like the FARC entering the political process after demobilization and reintegration, an area in which both sides have formerly reached agreement.
The rebels and the government have been negotiating in Havana, Cuba, since November 2012. Apart from the guerrillas’ political participation, the negotiating teams have found agreement on a rural reform and the FARC’s abandoning of drug trafficking.
The two sides are currently negotiating how to deal with the 7 million victims of the 50-year-long conflict and how to come to a definite end to violence, and allow the demobilization and reintegration of the FARC’s estimated 20 thousand armed and unarmed members.