Saturday, May 17, 2014

Colombia: FARC, ELN Declare Cease-Fire During Presidential Election May 20-28

According to The Latin American Tribune, Colombia’s two main rebel groups, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the ELN (National Liberation Army), announced Friday (May 16) a May 20-28 unilateral cease-fire for the presidential election.

The news was conveyed by FARC delegates taking part in peace talks with the Colombian government in Havana.

“We order all of our units to cease any offensive military action against the state armed forces and the economic infrastructure from 0000 hours on Tuesday, May 20, until 2400 hours on Wednesday, May 28,” the statement said.

COMMENT: I have said for years that a negotiated bilateral cease-fire should have been the FIRST step both the government and the rebels should have initiated prior to any peace negotiations taking place.

It will be interesting to see whether the rebels' cease-fire is respected by the government. I will follow the cease-fire carefully and keep our readers abreast of developments.

The rebel armies have adopted this electoral cease-fire because of the “national cry” for a voting atmosphere “characterized by a complete absence of disturbances,” according to the text read by FARC negotiator Pablo Catatumbo.

“Now we’ll see if there’s a change in the language and orders of high officials and of members of the military and police high commands with regard to our gesture, which we offer in hopes of lighting the way to a bilateral cease-fire,” the FARC said. 

The FARC and ELN reminded the Colombian government that they have repeatedly insisted on “the need to agree on a bilateral cease-fire which channels the peace talks toward the effective and rapid reconciliation of all Colombians.”

The last suspension of FARC hostilities took place in mid-December and lasted 30 days.

The elections, in which President Juan Manuel Santos seeks another term in office, will be held on May 25, though polling suggests that there will be a runoff on June 15.