Bogotá, Sep 23 (EFE). – “Colombia is moving towards the end of armed conflicts,” stated Camilo González, the chief government negotiator with the Central High Command (EMC), the primary dissident faction of the FARC and the second armed group with which dialogue will commence as part of President Gustavo Petro’s comprehensive peace plan, in an interview with EFE.
These new negotiations, preceded by a wave of terrorist attacks in the country’s southwest, will be firmly grounded in the 2016 peace agreement signed by the government with the former FARC guerrillas, from which dissidents like the EMC abstained.
“There have been disagreements, but I believe the groundwork has already been laid. While the formal negotiations have not yet begun, there have been meetings between the two delegations and a joint statement. I consider this a significant development,” said González regarding the new process in an interview with EFE.
What the Government Will Bring to the Table
González stated that the government has established some “non-negotiable points,” including “guaranteeing the safety and well-being of the population and communities.” Achieving this involves “compliance with International Humanitarian Law, as well as practical measures that ensure human life and the preservation of the environment.”
“Preserving life and allowing communities to exercise greater autonomy, free from the shadow of armed conflict, is our top priority,” he explained.
Both parties emphasize the importance of involving local communities, with González noting that “communities can only engage when they are not living under the threat of weapons.”
There have been discussions about agreements related to economic and social improvements for communities, such as halting deforestation and addressing cannabis cultivation, according to the chief negotiator.
Additionally, there are “immediate” agreements concerning human rights, international humanitarian law, demining, recruiting indigenous people and minors, and addressing displacement.
Ceasefire Between Armed Groups
In Catatumbo, where talks are scheduled for October 8, there exists a “special situation resembling an agreement” between dissidents of the FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN), who have entered into a “non-aggression pact,” a model that could potentially serve as an example for other regions.
“They can cease hostilities. It is absurd that there are more clashes in Colombia between irregular groups than with the Government,” González analyzed, highlighting that these groups now wield more “local influence” rather than adhering to the guerrilla-style military confrontations of the 1980s.
Consequently, beyond the government’s bilateral ceasefires with the EMC and the ELN, a priority will be to encourage a cessation of hostilities between these groups, fostering “a truce for these types of confrontations.”
While González acknowledges that “there is always a risk of dissidents or factions persisting,” he insists that “Colombia has been witnessing a decline in violence over the past few decades.” He states, “All violence indicators have decreased compared to the period before 2016.”
“There is a momentum towards ending the decades-long cycle of war in Colombia, which we must seize. If an agreement is reached, it will require national unity and significant political consensus; without a political agreement, there can be no peace agreement at these negotiations,” he concluded. EFE