Tag Archive | "FARC"

Colombia: FARC Declares Unilateral Ceasefire


FARC flag

FARC flag

In an historic first, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have declared an indefinite, unilateral ceasefire which will come into effect on 20th December.

Iván Márquez, the chief negotiator for FARC, read the statement yesterday in Havana, Cuba, in which the group said they hoped the ceasefire “would turn into an armistice”.

“We want to overcome the useless bloodshed,” he said, but added that the ceasefire would be terminated if they found that their guerrilla structures had been targeted by security forces. He went on to ask the public to act as overseer to the ceasefire. FARC also asked for oversight from Unsaur, Celac, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Frente Amplio por la Paz.

Colombia’s government responded to the news cautiously, saying that the decision goes in the right direction but that the organisation could not repeat past experiences of ceasefires that had only been partially followed. “All armed activity and threats to the civilian population must cease,” said the government in a statement.

The announcement came as the current round of peace talks between Juan Manuel Santos’ administration and the FARC draws to a close in Havana.

The peace talks, which began in November 2012, aim to put an end to over half a century of armed conflict that has killed over 220,000 people and displaced over two million.

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Colombia: FARC Release Kidnapped General, Peace Talks To Resume


President Santos met with the government negotiators on Sunday night, before their trip to Cuba (photo: César Carrión - SIG/Colombian government)

President Santos met with the government negotiators on Sunday night, before their trip to Cuba (photo: César Carrión – SIG/Colombian government)

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) released kidnapped General Rubén Darío Alzate and two other Army staff on Sunday morning.

The three Army personnel were delivered to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), thus removing the obstacle to the resumption of the peace talks in Havana. The Colombian government representatives are travelling to Cuba today and expect to resume the negotiations within the next few days.

“The negotiators will travel to Cuba this afternoon, they have a meeting in a couple of days; the Cuban government has requested that we don’t hold the meeting within the next few days as they are going to need to convention centre for a series of events,” explained Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Once there, they will “evaluate where the process is at, where we’re going, and will carry out a cold and objective evaluation of the process to see how we can move forward,” added Santos.

After the release, the FARC released a statement calling for “the re-design of the rules”. “It is time for a bilateral ceasefire, for an armistice, so that no war-related occurrence in the battle fields can justify the interruption of such a beautiful and historical task, which is agreeing peace for a nation that longs for that destiny.”

However, President Santos rejected the ceasefire once more. “I have the conviction that negotiating during the ongoing conflict is the best way to preserve the essential elements of the state and to keep the conversations from turning into an endless exercise,” he said.

He also acknowledged the role of the FARC in the release operation: “Even though the step taken by the FARC follows the duty to act as per the law, it is evident that the decision [to free the prisoners] contributes to recover a favourable climate to carry on with the dialogues,” as well as “it shows the maturity of the process.”

Christoph Harnisch, head of the ICRC in Colombia, said in a statement that the operation was carried out “thanks to the trust the parties put into the institution and its humanitarian work,” and hoped that the negotiations “can be resumed soon.” The guarantor countries, Norway and Cuba, also praised both parties for their “constructive position” and supported the ongoing peace process.

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Colombia: FARC Releases Two Soldiers


President Santos at yesterday's press conference (photo: Javier Casella/AFP/Télam)

President Santos announced the suspension of the peace talks last week (photo: Javier Casella/AFP/Télam)

The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) released yesterday the two soldiers they had captured on 9th November.

The soldiers, Paulo Rivera and Jonathan Díaz, were handed over to a commission formed by members of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the governments of Cuba and Norway, the guarantors of the peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC.

The release was carried out in an undisclosed location in the district of Arauca. The soldiers were then taken by the Army to the capital Bogotá, where they will undergo medical check-ups and reunite with their families.

In a statement, the FARC said they will now “focus their efforts” on the release of General Rubén Darío Alzate and two other army staff who were kidnapped on 16th November. President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the release of Alzate will take place on Saturday, and announced on Twitter that the military operations on the Pacific coast have been suspended in order to facilitate the release.

The FARC denounced military operations during the release of the two soldiers, and demanded the Army respects the Special Humanitarian Agreement in the upcoming release of Alzate. “During the release of the general [Alzate] we don’t want any risks of clashes due to [the Army] not following the protocols. Yesterday, when the Alfonso Castellanos Column of the Tenth Front was going to the place of release of the prisoners, an Army patrol appeared by surprise in the area, which forced them to avoid them and change the site chosen for the release,” said a statement by the guerrilla.

President Santos suspended the peace talks as information about the kidnapping of General Alzate became known. He affirmed that they would not resume until Alzate was freed. Last week, the FARC agreed to the release of the prisoners —including Alzate, the two army staff travelling with him, and the two soldiers captured on 9th November— after representatives from Cuba and Norway intervened in the conflict.

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The Indy’s Weekly Review – 21st November 2014


Coming up on this episode of The Indy’s Weekly Review:

We look back on a tense week in Colombia, after peace talks with the FARC were suspended following the kidnapping of an army general; we speak to human rights lawyer Marcos Filardi about proposed changes to Argentina’s seed law; and after the recent murder of Miss Honduras caused media furore, we question why some lives seem to matter more than others to the media.

All that, plus the main news headlines from Argentina and Latin America and an exclusive preview of the upcoming album by this week’s featured artist, Chaski Pum.

 

(Click on ‘Descargar’ to download)

Presented by: Kristie Robinson & Marc Rogers
Production: Celina Andreassi
Editing: Pablo Fisher

We will be looking to continually improve and add to this podcast, and we’d love to hear your feedback on it, as well as suggestions for any additional stories or content you’d like to hear in it in the future. Send us an email at info@argentinaindependent.com, or comment on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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Colombia: FARC Agrees to Release General After Guarantors Intervene


The guarantors from Cuba and Norway announce that FARC will release captured soldiers (Photo via PazFARC-EP)

The guarantors from Cuba and Norway announce that FARC will release captured soldiers (Photo via PazFARC-EP)

The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) have agreed to release a kidnapped Colombian army general, clearing the path for the resumption of peace talks with the government.

International guarantors in the peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC announced last night that the guerrilla group would return Rubén Darío Alzate and two other army personnel who were kidnapped on Sunday in the district of Chocó.

The representatives from Norway and Cuba also said that the FARC had agreed to release two other soldiers that had been kidnapped on 9th November. The liberation process will be supervised by the mediating countries and the International Red Cross.

Colombia president Juan Manuel Santos said he would “guarantee” the safe return of the soldiers. “The government will collaborate to guarantee the safe return of these people to their home, which we hope will be in the shortest time possible,” read a statement from the president. “One they are free, the government’s peace delegation will return to Havana.

General Alzate is the highest-ranking army officer to have ever been kidnapped by the FARC, which blamed the government for not accepting a ceasefire proposal while the peace talks continued. The guerrilla group says it has agreed to stop the kidnapping of civilians but consider the capture of Alzate and other military personnel to be an act of war.

Peace talks between the FARC and government began in Havana in November 2012. So far, the two sides have reached an agreement on three of the five key issues to be addressed before a final peace accord can be signed.

The current round of negotiation involve discussions over the victims of Colombia’s internal conflict.

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Colombia: Government Suspends Peace Talks Over Kidnapping


President Santos at yesterday's press conference (photo: Javier Casella/AFP/Télam)

President Santos at yesterday’s press conference (photo: Javier Casella/AFP/Télam)

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced yesterday the suspension of the peace talks with the FARC, after it became known that an Army General had been kidnapped, allegedly by members of the guerrilla.

According to a witness, General Rubén Darío Alzate boarded a boat down the Atrato river in the district of Chocó on Sunday afternoon, with another soldier, an army lawyer, and the boatman. They were inspecting works being carried out by the Army in the district. Despite warnings by the accompanying soldier regarding the heavy presence of guerrilla members in the area, Alzate —who was dressed in civilian clothing— gave the order to continue down to the village of Las Mercedes.

Once in Las Mercedes, General Alzate, the soldier, and the lawyer disembarked and were met by FARC members who allegedly kidnapped all three of them. The boatman was able to escape and alert the authorities.

“It is the FARC, we already know that, who are responsible for this kidnapping,” said President Santos in a press conference on Sunday. “A totally unacceptable kidnapping. We have information that gives us the certainty that it was the FARC.”

The president continued: “Tomorrow [for today], peace negotiators were travelling to a new round of peace talks in Havana. I will tell the negotiators not to travel, and that this negotiation is suspended until this is cleared up and these people are freed.”

President Santos also requested an explanation from the Army authorities regarding “a series of circumstances that need to be cleared up. Why was General Alzate in civilian clothing. Why did he tell his escorts not to go with him. Why he did not heed the boatman’s warning to not keep going down the river.”

He also made comments about these issues on his Twitter account, saying: “Defense Ministry and Commander General: I want you to explain why BG Alzate broke all the security protocols and was in civilian clothing in a red zone.”

General Alzate is the highest-ranking army officer ever kidnapped by the FARC. As part of the peace process, the FARC had announced an end to hostage-taking.

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Colombia: FARC Addresses Victims at Havana Peace Talks


Representatives from the government and the FARC sign the second agreement in November 2013 (photo: EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa/Télam/dsl)

Representatives from Colombia’s government and FARC at peace talks in Havana in November (photo: EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa/Télam/dsl)

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) reiterated yesterday their willingness to take responsibility towards the victims of the country’s conflict, proposing that a special fund be created for reparations for victims of the civil war. The statement comes as the most recent round of peace talks between the government and the left-wing guerrillas is underway in Havana, Cuba.

During the current stage, Colombians who have directly been affected by the conflict will give their testimonies and offer their thoughts to find ways that lead to the guarantee of their rights. This dialogue will allow the victims of human rights violations to be listened to without any discrimination, under the principles of protection and recognition. 

According to the country’s Centre for Historic Memory, during the country’s 50-year conflict, 220,000 have been killed and a further 25,000 disappeared, 5.7m displaced, and 27,000 kidnapped.

FARC spokesman, who goes by the name of Pablo Catatumbo, said that the government needed to move from “the current rhetoric to real and effective action” in terms of dealing with the thousands of victims, and guaranteed “maximum political willingness” on their part to make it happen.

Also on the agenda is the setting up of a historic commission on the conflict and its victims, which will enrich the discussion on different pending issues.

Previous rounds of talks, which began in November 2012, tackled the issues of rural development, political participation, and illegal drugs

 

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Colombia: Court Rules Former Guerrillas can Participate in Politics


Representatives from the government and the FARC sign the second agreement in November 2013 (photo: EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa/Télam/dsl)

Representatives from the government and FARC in Havana in November 2013 (photo: EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa/Télam/dsl)

With six votes in favour and three against, Colombia’s Constitutional Court has given the green light for former guerrillas to participate in politics in the country. The announcement comes on the same day that Juan Manuel Santos starts his second term as president.

The decision, which ratifies a 2012 vote in Congress, will only apply to former guerrillas who have participated in the country’s peace process, and excludes those who have been charged with crimes against humanity. This means that various members of FARC, the left-wing guerrilla group currently participating in peace talks with the country’s government in Havana, Cuba, will be barred from political life.

The issue of the political future of former guerrillas had been seen to be a sticking point in the country’s peace process, and it is hoped that now that it has been resolved, a long-lasting peace deal will eventually be possible.

The decision is also a victory for President Santos, whose first term was largely overshadowed by the peace talks with the insurgents, an issue he had made central from his very inauguration. It was four years ago today, during the ceremony that launched his first presidential term, that Santos said “the keys of peace are not at the bottom of the sea”, and two years later he announced that the government would sit down with the guerrillas in Cuba with the aim of putting an end to the country’s long-running civil war.

The peace talks dominated the election campaign, and for many the vote was a referendum on Santos and his policy of peace.

Dozens of international invitees will attend today’s ceremony, including presidents from around Latin America, King Felipe VI of Spain, and the president of the European Union, among others.

 

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Colombia: FARC and Government Prepare for New Round of Talks


Representatives from the government and the FARC sign the second agreement in November 2013 (photo: EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa/Télam/dsl)

Representatives from the government and the FARC sign the second agreement in November 2013 (photo: EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa/Télam/dsl)

The Colombian government and the FARC are holding meetings in Havana, Cuba, ahead of the next round of peace talks. The meetings, which began yesterday and were continuing today, seek to address formal issues regarding the participation of representatives of victims of the conflict in the talks.

“We have come with a concrete proposal regarding the way to allow for the presence of the victims in the Havana talks. What we want to discuss is the timing, the procedure, and the date in which this will begin to occur,” said Humberto de la Calle, chief negotiator for the Colombian government. “The central message to the victims is: participate, we’re willing to hear you and to have you here, at the talks,” he added.

Both delegations were meeting separately in the morning, and were expected to hold a joint meeting in the afternoon to finish discussing these points.

Andrés París, representative for the FARC, said that “everything is the same way it was yesterday [Tuesday], nothing will be made public today [Wednesday].”

Some of the complexities lie on the fact that there are different groups of victims left by 50 years of civil war: those who are victims of the guerrilla, of paramilitary groups, and of the Colombian state itself.

The Colombian government and the FARC began the peace talks in Havana, with Cuba and Norway as guarantors, in November 2012. They have so far tackled the issues of land reform (May 2013), political participation (November 2012), and illicit drugs (May 2014).

The remaining subjects are the most sensitive, according to the negotiators themselves: right of the victims, disarmament of the rebels, and the implementation of the peace deal.

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Colombia: FARC, ELN Begin Unilateral Ceasefire for Elections


The FARC peace delegation (photo courtesy of FARC-EP)

The FARC peace delegation (photo courtesy of FARC-EP)

Colombia’s two main guerrilla groups, The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (FARC-EP) and National Liberation Army (ELN), began a unilateral ceasefire today in preparation for Sunday’s presidential elections.

The ceasefire, which was announced on Sunday in a joint press release, came into effect at midnight and will last until the end of Wednesday 28th May.

“The insurgency does not believe in the electoral regime,” read the statement. “We think, like millions of our compatriots, that the corruption, clientelism, fraud, and all kinds of underhand tactics make the results illegitimate.”

However, the guerrilla organisations said that the “national clamour” for calm during the voting period warranted action.

On Friday, negotiators representing the government and FARC in peace talks in Havana announced that they had reached a preliminary agreement on combatting drug trafficking in Colombia, the third of five key issues that make up the framework of the peace talks. The agreement covers the substitution of crops where illicit plants are currently cultivated, programmes to tackle addiction and consumption, and tackling the illegal commercial drugs trade.

The next round of talks is currently set for 2nd June, in which the highly sensitive issue of the victims of the internal conflict, which has lasted more than five decades.

However, the future of the peace talks would become uncertain if President Santos is defeated in Sunday’s election, with rival candidate Óscar Iván Zuluaga saying he would suspend the dialogue and demand that the FARC end all action as a condition to a peace accord.

The last opinion poll published before the close of campaigning showed Zuluaga with a narrow lead over Santos, though indicating that a second round run-off would be required.

 

 

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