FARC rebels have violated their self-imposed unilateral ceasefire twice while the Colombian military has largely avoided attacking the guerrillas in its attempt to deescalate violence while peace talks continue, observers said Thursday.
Following a crisis in the peace talks due to ongoing violence, the FARC resumed a suspended ceasefire on July 20 and President Juan Manuel Santos ordered a suspension of airstrikes five days later.
According to conflict monitoring group CERAC, the subsequent reduction in violence has resulted in an almost absolute absence of military activity between both parties not seen since the 1970s.
FARC units’ failure to comply with their leadership’s order to cease fire on military and infrastructure targets might have been compromised on three other occasions, but these alleged attacks are still under verification, the CERAC said.
The monitoring group said that two civilians were injured in the confirmed rebel truce violations.
Additional FARC claims that the army on three occasions violated the suspension of air strikes have also yet to be confirmed.
Military attacks drastically reduced
The army carried out six ground offensives that caused violent clashes with rebels, and killed three soldiers and three FARC members. These attacks are no violations as the government has yet to formally agree on a bilateral ceasefire.
These ground offensives took place in week 1 and week 4 of the FARC’s truce as the group reported a complete absence of military offensives in the second and third week.
Before the truce, the United Nations registered an average of 56 clashes per month.
Armed conflict between November 17 and August 20
According to the CERAC, the military has instead focused its attention on other illegal armed groups active in Colombia, mainly the tiny EPL that is active in the northeast of the country and the neo-paramilitary Urabeños, the country’s most powerful drug trafficking organization.
Meanwhile in Havana
The drastic reduction in violence urged by the international community has allowed major advances in Cuba where negotiators are bartering peace.
To break the deadlock on transitional justice negotiations, an international panel of six experts was appointed. This panel will propose a compromise that will prevent impunity for the tens of thousands of human rights violations committed by both state actors and the FARC.
This sub-commission was appointed to speed up the talks that began in November 2012.
A second sub-commission is negotiating the conditions for the bilateral and definite truce that in effect would mean the end of 51 years of political, drug-fueled violence between the FARC and the state.
Meanwhile, the main negotiation commission is dealing with victim compensation, the small print of previously announced partial accords and the eventual implementation of a peace deal that will formally end the conflict and the beginning of a post-conflict period.
In Bogota, Congress vowed to shortly begin debating on how to ratify a possible peace deal as quickly and smoothly as possible.
If successful, the peace talks will end Latin America’s longest-running armed conflict.