By Brendan Oliver Bergh
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
BOGOTÁ, Colombia – After months of negotiations, and two months of a ceasefire, Colombia’s FARC Marxist resistance army has taken up arms again. While talks have not broken down between FARC leadership and the Colombian government, the ceasefire initiated by the FARC ended on January 20th after the Colombian government refused to lay down their arms.
Generally the Colombian government believed that FARC had complied with their ceasefire, President Juan Manuel Santos stated “The fact is that the number of operations carried out by the group decreased significantly, the number of police and soldiers killed or injured decreased,” showed compliance with the self-initiated cease-fire. While the military registered at least 52 violations of the truce, it was unclear if whether the guerrillas were attacking or defending themselves.
As the ceasefire ended Ivan Marquez, chief negotiator for FARC told the press “With heartache again we must admit the return of the military phase of the war, which nobody wants.” A short time later FARC rebels reignited hostilities. Within hours FARC rebels began assaulting municipalities in Tarra (near the Venezuelan border) with mortars and machine guns. The first assault left 3 soldiers wounded, while the second attack claimed the first FARC attributed death since the ceasefire ended.
Beyond assaults on military targets, Guerrillas have targeted and blew up two oil pipelines in Southern Colombia and attacked a coal train. These attacks are indicative of the FARCs attempts to disrupt the economic infrastructure of the Latin American country.
Some have criticized for not following suit and agreeing to a bi-lateral ceasefire, the government argued that historically the rebels would use the opportunity to rearm. A decade ago when the Colombian government entered into peace talks with the FARC rebels, they agreed to a bilateral military ceasefire. The rebels used this opportunity to rearm and launch a new offensive which took the Colombian military by surprise. This lead to a ten year offensive which has since displaced an additional 600,000 civilians and whittled the Rebels forces from over 16,000 fighters to under 9,000.
While the ceasefire has ended, peace negotiations continue. However until everything is agreed upon, nothing will be solved. Until the government of Colombia and FARC can agree on kidnapping compensation, the political nature of FARC, Redistribution of land , drug trafficking and end to the conflict, the negotiations will continue.
The two sides have been fighting since the formation of the FARC as a communist movement in 1964 in what is now Latin America’s longest-running insurgency.
For further information, please see:
Noticias Terra – FARC Attack Pipelines And Bomb Throwing Coal Train – 22 January 2013
Colombia Reports – FARC Kills 1st Soldier After Temporary Truce Comes To End – 21 January 2013
BBC – Colombia Farc Rebels End Unilateral Ceasefire – 20 January 2013
Yahoo – Colombia’s FARC Rebels End Ceasefire – 20 January 2013
Al Jazeera – Colombia Refuses To Extend Farc Ceasefire – 20 January 2013
BBC – Farc Ceasefire ‘To End’ As Peace Talks Resume In Cuba – 14 January 2013