January 31 – Negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas re-opened today, after a week-long recess.
Objecting to bilateral agreements before peace negotiations are finalized, the government of Juan Manuel Santos refused to halt fire alongside guerrilla troops, thus ending the FARC’s cease-fire on January 19 at midnight. Without state reciprocation, the unilateral truce ran its sixty-day course as planned, returning FARC forces to guerrilla-style warfare that has typified the group since its beginnings.
Despite significant drops in violence, the cease-fire was widely disputed. Critics claimed FARC attacks continued throughout the country, despite claims to have halted offensive attacks. The New Rainbow Corporation Armed Conflict Observatory documented 41 armed actions involving both guerrilla fighters and armed forces during this period. Of these actions, seven were clear violations of the unilateral truce; another eight ran a thin line somewhere between defensive and offensive; and the remaining 26 were classified as defensive attacks, calculating thatalmost 90% of FARC stopped offensive attacks for the duration of the cease-fire. The outcome places in doubt a previous supposition that internal FARC divisions between units could nullify potential peace accords.
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By Alejandro Gonzalez
December was marked by an increase of military presence in the San José de Apartadó Peace Community and surrounding veredas (settlements). Helicopters flew constantly, while troops walked by and positioned themselves in strategic points. While peace negotiations are taking place in Cuba, the government insists on an increased military offensive, which seems to be its strategy for 2013.
The might of the Colombian Army and its allies is felt not only in the field but also in the legislature. On December 11, the Colombian Senate approved a constitutional reform that expands significantly the scope of the military criminal jurisdiction. The initiative, supported by Defense Secretary Juan Carlos Pinzón, passed despite strong and numerous criticisms by national and international human rights defenders and organizations.
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