Colombian Peace Commissioner Frank Pearl said Wednesday that the government will not authorize the brokers of the Medellin gangs ceasefire to conduct any more negotiations.
Pearl said that the negotiators’ authorization to broker peace will run out Friday, February 12. It is renewable for a further three months, but the government and the commission of negotiators have decided to end it, Caracol Radio reported Wednesday.
“Despite the members of the civil commission’s best intentions, in a given moment it is possible that they went off course from the goal, which is to bring these people to justice,” Pearl said.
The government says it authorized the negotiators to speak with members of the Medellin gangs, but only so that the criminals could be brought to justice.
Caracol Radio published segments of letters that the government sent to the negotiators.
The first, sent November 12, 2009 authorizes the five negotiators to form a civil commission and to “take steps in the interest of national reconciliation”. It does not state that the negotiators should not seek a peace treaty.
In the second letter, dated November 23, 2009 the government asks the civil commission to ensure negotiations are kept confidential and requests that all actions be channeled through the Peace Commissioner’s office. A peace treaty is not mentioned.
The government makes clear that the civil commission may only act to bring gang members to justice, in a missive dated January 27, in which it states “no task can be orientated towards surrendering the constitutional mission of legally established institutions in the fight against crime”.
The government has since publicly clarified that it will not recognize a ceasefire between Medellin’s major crime syndicates.
Pearl said Wednesday that gang members would not be offered reduced jail sentences or other rewards in return for peace, as occurred with the demobilization of paramilitary groups under the Justice and Peace Law.
Truce negotiator Jorge Gaviria previously told Colombia Reports that his commission never offered reduced penalties in return for a truce.
“We offered nothing because we had nothing to offer,” he said. “The only offer we could make was a reduction in homicides.”
Pearl reportedly sent a letter dated February 2 to the civil commission stating that their authorization to “take steps towards reconciliation” would not be extended.
The ceasefire, in effect since February 1, has already drastically affected Medellin’s homicide rates. Only seven murders were reported last week, down from 231 murders registered in January.