The ceasefire, announced last week by the rebel groups’ central commands, will last until May 28. The Colombian government has not answered calls to reciprocate the temporary truce.
“We [the leaders] order all of our units to cease any offensive military action against the armed forces or economic infrastructure of Colombia,” said FARC Commander Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias “Timochenko,” in a statement released Wednesday.
Since peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC began in November 2012, the question of a bilateral ceasefire has been raised repeatedly but never agreed to by the Colombian government.
The FARC and ELN jointly announced on May 16 that they would hold a unilateral ceasefire between May 20 and May 28 as a show of good will to the country and so that May 25’s presidential elections can run without any interference.
A partir de las 00:00 horas del martes 20 de mayo, hasta las 24:00 horas del miércoles 28 de Mayo. FARC y ELN ordenan cese al fuego.
— Diálogos Paz FARC (@FARC_EPaz) Mayo 16, 2014
According to the joint statement, the move does not signal that Colombia’s largest rebel group support the existant political climate, as “the insurgency does not believe in the Colombian electoral system.” Rather, the “gesture” was made in the interest of “democracy” and so that a “glimmer of hope for a bilateral ceasefire” could be heard as part of the “strong national outcry” for peace the rebels claim exists in the country.
Frustration at the lack of a bilateral agreement is clear even in the statement, however, which reads, “Paradoxically, this generous gesture has led to the intensification of the offensive by the regime, putting our forces in unfavorable positions.”
Additionally, the rebels launched criticisms of the recent drug-trafficking and wire-tapping scandals in which the two front-running presidential campaigns — of incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos and right-wing Democratic Center (Centro Democratico) party candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga — have become embroiled:
“We, like millions of compatriots, believe that corruption, clientelism, fraud and all kinds of dirty tricks lead to the illegitimacy of its results. Today’s scandals add more strength to our arguments…However, we will see if the language and the orders of senior officials and members of the military and police leadership, in relation to our gesture, will change,” reads the statement.
During the most recent unilateral ceasefire, which lasted from December to January 15, the FARC was unable to guarantee the actions of all of its disperse units. There were independently documented incidents of FARC agression during the ceasefire, leading some to renew speculation that the rebel group’s central command is no longer in control of its entire military structure.
- Electoral Ceasefire (FARC-EP)
- Farc y Eln iniciaron cese al fuego por elecciones (Vanguardia)
- Farc y el Eln inician cese el fuego por elecciones presidenciales (El Colombiano)