In Colombia, the government will begin talks with FARC dissidents

The date is now known

In Colombia, the government will begin talks with FARC dissidents

The date is now known. The Colombian government and the main dissident faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which had pledged to resume peace talks, will begin formal negotiations on October 8, both sides announced Tuesday (September 19). A ceasefire will take effect the same day.

“It was agreed to set up the peace dialogue table on October 8 in Tibu” (north-east), near the border with Venezuela, states a joint declaration between the emissaries of President Gustavo Petro and “ Ivan Mordisco”, Chief of the FARC Central Staff (EMC). The EMC is made up of rebels who refused to sign the historic 2016 peace agreement between the government and Marxist guerrillas.

This date will also mark “the implementation of a temporary bilateral ceasefire of a national nature” implying “the cessation of offensive operations”, adds the text. This truce must last ten months. “The objective of this peace-building process is to dignify the way of life of Colombians who are the direct victims of social inequality and armed confrontation,” the statement added.

Delegates from both camps gathered Tuesday in the mountains of the Cauca department, in the southwest of the country, in the presence of representatives of the international community (UN, European Union, Organization of American States, representatives of the Venezuelan government and three European countries), noted a photographer from Agence France-Presse.

Nearly 3,500 men

Their joint press conference took place in the middle of coca leaf plantations. Cauca is one of the regions of the country most disrupted by violence. All participants were in civilian clothes and dressed in white, including the EMC's main negotiator, known as Commander Andrey Avendaño, and the government's high commissioner for peace, Danilo Rueda.

“This is the right time for Colombia to move towards a peace scenario,” commented Andrey Avendaño. “Today we are facing many challenges,” said Mr. Rueda, noting that Colombians were skeptical of the peace process. “This is why we must show more clearly the facts and the consistency of what we write on paper,” he stressed.

The dissidents, estimated at nearly 3,500 men who consider themselves the true heirs of the FARC, have brought together in recent months several other “Fronts” operating in various regions of Colombia, mainly in the Amazon, on the Pacific coast and on the border. Venezuelan. They profit greatly from drug trafficking and other illegal activities, such as clandestine mining.

Local elections on October 29

Dissidents have notably increased their operations against security forces in recent weeks, also attempting to increase their zone of influence. This Tuesday, they “committed to respecting the free exercise of voting and electoral campaigns”, while the country is organizing local elections on October 29.

Gustavo Petro announced a bilateral truce with the country's five main armed groups on December 31, but suspended the agreement with the EMC in May, when the rebels killed four young indigenous people who opposed their recruitment.

President Petro seeks to end six decades of armed conflict by conducting peace negotiations with all illegal armed groups: FARC dissidents, Guevarist guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN), but also paramilitaries and several criminal groups .