May 16, 2014
A few hours ago, the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC-EP) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) announced a unilateral ceasefire to take place in Colombia from May 20-28. (See the FARC statement here.) Colombia’s presidential elections are scheduled for May 25. The joint action appears to respond to a variety of initiatives urging the parties to undertake humanitarian gestures to alleviate human suffering. Since peace talks were initiated in late 2012, the FARC has called two other unilateral, temporal ceasefires. The Colombian government so far has insisted on executing the war while negotiations are under way without a ceasefire.
Calls for a ceasefire from different civil society groups have been constant since the talks began, and the international community has recently ratcheted up its support for such a move. Most immediately, this latest ceasefire announcement comes on the heels of an unprecedented letter sent earlier this week by 245 Congressional leaders in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland. The letter praised the current peace process efforts and called on Humberto de la Calle and Iván Márquez, as heads of the Colombian government and FARC-EP peace delegations, respectively, to consider enacting a bilateral ceasefire and other measures to reduce the humanitarian costs of the war. The letter reads: “We encourage you to consider the possibility of a ceasefire and to take the necessary measures to minimise the humanitarian cost of the conflict and guarantee the safety of civil society. We applaud the efforts made to include the views of civil society and we hope that this participation will be deepened and extended as the process continues. As politicians, some of whom have been involved in other peace processes, we are firmly committed to supporting the peace talks.”
The signatories of the letter committed themselves to “increase awareness of the talks, and offer our experiences, to emphasise the extremely positive achievements that have been made so far by both sides, to ensure the international community puts its full weight behind the peace process.”
- For the full letter in English, click LETTER TO THE NEGOTIATING TABLE.
- For the full letter in Spanish, click CARTA A LA MESA DE NEGOCIACION.