Colombian rebel group FARC has relentlessly continued attacking infrastructure and security forces in the days after it announced a unilateral ceasefire set for July 20.
The FARC announced the unilateral ceasefire on July 8 to curb increasing public pessimism and tensions with the negotiating team appointed by President Juan Manuel Santos.
This ceasefire initially was supposed to last one month, but pressured by the sponsor countries and government promises to reciprocate with concrete measures to de-escalate the violence, the rebels decided to left the one-month limit and declare the ceasefire for an indefinite period of time.
However, the rebels have continued to carry out attacks on infrastructure in the days leading up to their ceasefire, leaving at least two soldiers dead and dozens of policemen injured.
Series of attacks
On early Thursday morning, alleged FARC guerrillas blew up the main road connecting Medellin to the Caribbean coast. On this road and others connecting Colombia’s second largest city and the north, guerrilla previously set buses on fire.
Hours before, guerrillas reportedly also set fire to an oil well in Yondó in the same province and blew up part of the Pan-American Highway that connects all Colombia’s major cities with Ecuador.
This attack was carried out in the south of Cauca, one of the country’s 32 provinces that has been most affected by the 51-year-long armed conflict between guerrillas and the state.
In the same province, FARC guerrillas on Wednesday blew up an oil pylon, leaving the town of Caldono partially without energy.
Also in Cauca, rebels on Wednesday attacked a police post in the village of El Mango, injuring seven policemen who had only just returned after being expelled from the town by locals who feared a pending attack.
On Monday, one policeman was injured and 20 homes damaged when alleged FARC guerrillas threw a grenade at a police post in Florida, Valle del Cauca.
A similar attack was carried out on a police post in Puerto Valvidia, Antioquia on Tuesday, leaving two policemen injured.
The deadliest of blows took place in Montañita, Caqueta where FARC guerrillas on Friday killed two soldiers.
Military not holding back either
The Colombian military seemed to also not have begun de-escalating violence ahead of Colombia’s Independence day.
One alleged guerrilla was killed on Tuesday in the Norte de Santander province close to the Venezuelan border. A second guerrilla was captured.
Conflict-related violence resumed to full force after May 22 when the FARC lifted a ceasefire it had been largely upholding since December 20.
During the FARC’s 5 month unilateral ceasefire a 90% reduction of violence was witnessed in contrast to the same time frame the previous year. There were a total of 91 violent actions, 79 of these initiated by the Colombian government and 12 by the FARC.
FARC negotiator Pastor Alape reported that during this time there existed a “non-conformity between troops”. He reported in late June “The rebel troops asked their commanders if they were going to allow the army to kill them without defending themselves.”
The rebels and the government have since the beginning of the talks in November 2012 signed partial agreements on political participation, rural reform and the FARC’s abandoning of drug trafficking, three of the six agenda items. They have additionally agreed to a Truth Commission that will begin after a final agreement is reached in Havana.
The negotiating teams still have three more agenda points for discussion: victim reparation, disarmament of the rebels (end of conflict) and the final implementation of all agreed points.
The current cycle may finally announce an agreement on the point of victims. This is an issue both parties have struggled with, not knowing how to adequately bring justice and compensation for over 7 million individuals generated in 51 years of armed conflict.