The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, announced this Monday morning that he is suspending the ceasefire with the Central General Staff, one of the two major dissidences of the former FARC guerrilla, starting in the next 72 hours. “It is reported that the bilateral cessation that currently existed with this armed group in the departments of Meta, Caquetá, Guaviare and Putumayo is suspended and all offensive operations are reactivated,” read a press release published by the Presidency of the Republic. .
The decision to put an end to the truce was made after confirming that armed men from these dissidences detained and killed four young indigenous people in the department of Putumayo. “Yesterday the murder of four minors by the Carolina Ramírez front, of the Central General Staff, was known. An atrocious fact that questions the will to build a country in peace. There is no justification for this kind of crime,” said the Presidency.
At the end of a security council in which the defense minister, Iván Velásquez, and the leadership of the armed forces participated, the Government explained that the suspension of the ceasefire occurred after hearing delegates from the communities and the Extraordinary Council of security. The president announced that military actions will be carried out with respect for human rights and International Humanitarian Law.
The Government also explained that the delegates of the Central General Staff were summoned to inform them of the decision, but they excused themselves from attending. President Petro insists that the dismissal ended due to the serious violation of International Humanitarian Law by this illegal organization, added to other facts that generate uncertainty and anxiety in the population. “If the bilateral ceasefire is not effective in certain territories to protect the life and integrity of the entire population, there is no point in persisting with it,” said the president.
The Central General Staff responded on Monday to the Government’s decision. “The unilateral break will unleash the war and the dead, wounded and prisoners will multiply, contrary to a policy of total peace.” According to the communiqué of that dissidence, the ceasefire that was signed since September 22, 2022, “was always unilateral because the military operations, which once again reveal paramilitarism as a State policy, never ceased.”
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In the statement, the dissidents assure that they did not commit the massacre of the indigenous youth: “The facts that we are accused of were never verified and we insist that in Caquetá, Meta and Guaviare there have been no combats of any kind, extortions or executions.”
In contrast to these statements, the high commissioner for peace, Danilo Rueda, confirmed through a press release that the Carolina Ramírez front, part of the so-called Central General Staff, was responsible for the multiple murders. “We emphatically reject this criminal conduct of the Carolina Ramírez Front of the EMC-FARC that ignores IHL and constitutes an attack on peace. In accordance with international conventions and protocols, the recruitment of minors is a war crime that affects children, as well as their families and communities.
The dissidence affirms that the government of Gustavo Petro has been “the least serious to start talks.” According to the organization, “the Oversight, Monitoring and Verification Mechanism has not yet been installed and there have been permanent violations of its protocol on issues ranging from spokespersons to pronounce on aspects of the ceasefire to the incessant need to verify facts on the ground ”.
The murder of the four indigenous people and the subsequent decision to terminate the ceasefire have aroused reactions from the opposition. Uribista senator María Fernanda Cabal wrote on her Twitter account: “The first person responsible for the escalation of violence is Petro; that under the deceit of total peace, he left Colombia in the hands of the terrorists. If the FARC had been persecuted and not agreeing to supposed ceasefires, events such as the massacre of 4 children would have been avoided”. For his part, Senator Iván Cepeda, defender of the peace negotiation, responded: “Now the detractors of peace, the same ones who fabricated the violence that we suffer today, say that the ceasefires fail. In reality, the protection of the people does not concern them. They seek to discourage any initiative to end the escalation of the confrontation”.
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