Petro announces broad cease-fire
Jan. 3, 2023
Colombian President Gustavo Petro inaugurated 2023 announcing a six-month bilateral ceasefire with five armed groups — the ELN, two dissident FARC groups, the Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia and the Self-Defense Forces of the Sierra Nevada.
The government said the ceasefire would be monitored by the United Nations, Colombia's human rights ombudsman and the Catholic Church. Each organization will have a specific decree determining the durations and conditions of the ceasefire, which can be extended past June 30.
Indepaz directo Camilo González Posso hailed the ceasefire as “extraordinary,” and said it would affect 80 illegal structures, with impact in 350 Colombian municipalities. The ceasefire affects an estimated 15,000 armed fighters.
Petro’s announcement is a major step towards his goal of “total peace” in Colombia, which has continued to suffer high rates of violence inflicted by armed groups after the landmark 2016 FARC peace accord. Petro has advanced in negotiations with the ELN since assuming office last August, and achieved a truce between rival gangs in Buenaventura.
Colombian lawmakers paved the way for Petro’s new peace policy with a November law permitting the government to negotiate with guerrillas, drug trafficking organizations and paramilitary groups — aimed at eliminating the violence that surged in the power vacuum left by the FARC demobilization in 2017.
Indepaz recorded 94 massacres last year.
More than 25 armed groups, criminals or criminal gangs have expressed their willingness to join Petro’s “Total Peace” plan. If it advances, “Colombia will be in uncharted territory,” according to InSight Crime.
While negotiations could lead to an immediate reduction in violence, there are significant obstacles, including organizations that are uninterested in peace talks and armed groups’ continued reliance on illicit economies (sustained by violence) even during negotiations, explains InSight Crime. Groups will also have to contend with potential internal dissidence.
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