The Latest Developments in Colombian Peace Talks

 

During the night of April 15 into the morning of April 16, 2015, FARC rebels reportedly attacked a battalion of troops in Buenos Aires, a municipality in the Cauca region in southwestern Colombia. Ten government troops and one FARC fighter died and another nine government troops were injured . The ambush was been the first to violate the ceasefire that the FARC negotiators agreed to back in November. This attack also brought the government to reverse its decision to end airstrikes against FARC sites and it has since resumed them. For its part, FARC has put the blame on the government. FARC Commander Pastor Alape claimed that the government has continued its aggression against the rebels while FARC has maintained the ceasefire. He also stated that the attack was merely a defensive action by FARC forces.

colombiaThe actions taken by both sides have caused some setbacks in the confidence that has been built up over the course of the talks; however they have not brought an end to the negotiations. Talks have been suspended in the past as a result of government and FARC actions, but so far there have been no threats to cut off negotiations by either side. At the end of the 34th round of talks which concluded on March 27, 2015, both sides claimed they had made progress on victims’ rights, one of the most contentious issues in the talks. FARC rebels have also pledged to aid the government in removing the landmines that litter the country. Negotiations are progressing nicely and neither FARC nor the government wants that to come to an end. For the FARC these talks mean resuming normal civilian life and ending the civil war. President Santos wants to bring an end to the civil war as well, and also has all of his political capital staked on these negotiations. Santos was reelected by promising peace through these talks. If these were to fail, his political career could be over. FARC has issued a renewed call for peace and President Santos has called for a deadline in order to bring peace to the country, showing that both sides are still very much committed to these talks.

 

Negotiations may not be ending, but public perception will most likely be damaged by these recent attacks. Any accord that is reached by both parties is subject to a referendum by the Colombian people, and if people do not believe in the talks then the accord may not pass. People need to be confident in the process in order for it to pass. The talks are progressing on a steady path and could achieve real change, but both sides need to commit to them in order for them to pass. If this sort of violence continues it will jeopardize the peace talks and achieve nothing, potentially plunging . Colombia back into the civil war it has known for so long.

About Daniel Waring

Daniel is a recent graduate from the University of Alberta with a Combined Bachelor of Arts in French and Spanish with a Political Science minor. During his time there Daniel studied abroad in Nantes, France and Guadalajara, Mexico. This fall Daniel will begin his Masters in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Guelph. Since graduating Daniel has worked as an intern at the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. and is now working as a Junior Research Fellow. Daniel’s research interests lie primarily in Latin America and upon finishing his Masters he hopes to work in foreign policy focused on Latin America.