Colombia’s coalition parties have rejected the idea of a bilateral ceasefire between government and rebels, instead proposing a trial period for the guerrillas to demonstrate they genuinely want peace.
“The proposal would lead to us falling into the trap that the FARC and ELN have consistently set,” said U Party Senator and Senate President Juan Manuel Corzo, in newspaper El Tiempo. According to the U Party lawmaker, the guerrillas’ trap is “using people and the pain of families [of hostages] to push a plan that hasn’t worked and they haven’t complied with.”
The newspaper also said Liberal Party president Simon Gaviria had turned against the 90-day ceasefire proposed by prominent party member and peace activist Piedad Cordoba, “because this kind of ceasefire could be seen as a defeat of the government.”
Instead, “the government should tell the FARC they get two weeks or a month and if they haven’t released their hostages, as [a sign of] goodwill for peace, the military offensive will continue,” said Gaviria.
Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon told press Tuesday he was unaware of the proposal for a truce, but assured that “as long as there are illegal armed groups” they will always be confronted with “the strength of the Colombian state.”
Cordoba sent letters to FARC commander Timoleon Jimenez, alias “Timochenko,” the leader of the ELN, Nicolas Rodriguez Bautista, and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Monday, proposing a truce of at least three months in order to commence “dialogue and humanitarian accords.”
The FARC and ELN have been fighting the Colombian state since 1964. The Colombian conflict, fueled by additional paramilitary violence since the 1980s, has killed tens of thousands of Colombians and has displaced millions.