October 30 2015
Colombian Government, FARC Agree to UN Cease-Fire Observation
After nearly three years of stop-and-start peace talks in Havana between the Bogota government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the peace process between the two bodies is gathering momentum despite a number of right-wing attempts to derail it.
A month ago, President Juan Manuel Santos announced a surprise trip to Cuba on Twitter, saying: “Peace is near.” The FARC went even further, saying “Peace has arrived,” in a message posted on their negotiating team’s Twitter account announcing that their leader, Timoleon “Timochenko” Jimenez, had arrived in Havana.
Santos and Timochenko held their first-ever meeting at 5:00 pm (2100 GMT), said a FARC source in the delegation in Havana.
Cuban President Raul Castro and the two negotiating teams were also present, the source said.
This is the first time since the talks opened in November 2012 that Santos traveled to Cuba to take part and the meeting between Santos and Timochenko was a landmark step in the peace process — raising hopes in Colombia that a major breakthrough was imminent.
Santos said his trip to Havana was “for a key meeting with negotiators with the objective of accelerating the end of the conflict,” which erupted in 1964 in the turbulent aftermath of a peasant uprising. He later traveled to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
The FARC have been observing a unilateral ceasefire since July 20. Santos has repeatedly rebuffed their demands for a bilateral ceasefire, but has suspended air strikes on rebel positions.
UN Security Council
On Friday, October 23, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Commander Timoleon Jimenez of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, agreed that the United Nations should verify and observe a potential bilateral cease-fire between the two, marking yet another step forward for the peace process.
On Wednesday, Santos requested the support of the U.N. Security Council for the final phase of the peace process.
“I will contact (the presidents) of the five permanent members of the Security Council to ask for their support for a rapid mandate and so we can make arrangements to finalize the negotiation process on the point (of negotiation) regarding the end of the conflict as soon as possible,” said Santos.
The announcement by the Colombian president was followed by a tweet from Timoleon Jimenez, agreeing with the proposal.
Santos expressed optimism that the Security Council would respond positively.
Although Santos originally said a bilateral cease-fire could possibly be implemented in 2016, the negotiating parties are now working to have a cease-fire before Christmas. However a bilateral cease-fire is contingent on the government and the FARC agreeing on the end of a hostilities, the fifth point of negotiation.
A final peace deal is expected by late March 2016, but could come sooner if negotiations conclude ahead of schedule.
After three years, the Cuban government can feel proud of their contribution to peace in the region in keeping with the CELAC declaration of making Latin America and the Caribbean a Zone of Peace.