Peace Timeline 2012 and Earlier

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December 31, 2012

  • A grenade attack on a police station in Guapi, Cauca department, injures four civilians and two police officers. On January 2, National Police Director Gen. Riaño blames the attack on the FARC, accusing the guerrillas of breaking their unilateral truce.

  • “The serious, realistic, and sober peace process that we have begun with the FARC could end the internal armed conflict in Colombia,” President Santos writes in an English-language column, “implying the defeat, once and for all, of the continent’s guerrilla groups and bringing down the curtain on a half-century of senseless violence.”

December 29, 2012

  • Writing in Colombia’s El Espectador newspaper, President Santos’s brother Enrique discusses the behind-the-scenes role he played in making contacts and getting talks started with the FARC. Among the most difficult tasks, Santos writes, was convincing the guerrillas to allow Mauricio Jaramillo, alias El Médico, chief of the FARC’s powerful Eastern Bloc, to board a government helicopter that would transport him to Havana.

December 28, 2012

  • Contradicting statements made to the press by Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo, chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle says that the Santos administration has not set an end date for discussion of rural development, the first negotiating agenda topic. Carrillo had said the government expected to have moved on to the second agenda topic by Easter week (late March 2013).

December 26, 2012

  • Colombian National Police Director Gen. José Roberto León Riaño says that the FARC are planning a wave of attacks for after January 20, when the guerrillas’ unilateral two-month truce is to lapse. “We have seen movements to acquire explosives and war material. Most likely to prepare a terrorist wave.”

December 19, 2012

  • Upon completion of a third round of conversations in Havana about land and rural development, FARC negotiator Jesús Santrich tells reporters that the talks have occurred “at a good pace of respectful discussion.”
  • A Gallup poll finds 71 percent of Colombians supporting the peace process with the FARC, but only 43 percent of them believing that an accord will actually be reached. 54 percent are “pessimistic.”
  • Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa says that the FARC talks are “one of the happiest pieces of news in recent decades for our Americas.”

December 18, 2012

  • “I hope that within a year we can say that, after 50 years, we have peace in Colombia,” says President Santos.

December 17-19, 2012

  • On behalf of the FARC-government peace dialogues, the UN Development Program and Colombia’s National University host a forum in Bogotá to receive “input and proposals” from civil society about the first item on the negotiation agenda, land and rural development. More than 1,300 participants from over 500 organizations attend and submit about 400 proposals.

  • Conspicuously absent is FEDEGAN, the national cattlemen’s federation, which boycotts the event, even alleges that the high turnout is the result of FARC funding. President Santos criticizes as “irrational” the decision not to attend.
  • A December 20 FARC communiqué criticizes the FEDEGAN decision, accusing its leader of being a paramilitary ally.
  • December 18 FARC greeting to the forum participants

December 16, 2012

  • A report from the Associated Press Havana bureau notes an “increasingly collegial atmosphere and growing trust” at the FARC-government talks. Negotiators “share cigarettes and aromatic Cuban cigars, and even huddle around a computer screen to hash over design ideas for the website they’ve developed together.”

December 15, 2012

  • Nearly a month after the FARC’s declared cease-fire, “The intensity of the armed conflict has fallen by 80 percent,” notes Marta Ruiz, security reporter at Semana magazine.

December 6, 2012

  • The United Nations and the Peace Committees of Colombia’s Congress produce a synthesis of proposals for the peace dialogues, gathered at nine meetings with civil-society representatives around the country.

December 5, 2012

  • A third round of FARC-government talks begins in Havana.

December 3, 2012

  • Maximum ELN leader Nicolás Rodríguez confirms that the smaller guerrilla group is discussing with the government the possibility of initiating peace talks. Rodríguez, alias “Gabino,” says that the ELN wants a bilateral cease-fire as a precondition for dialogues.

December 2, 2012

  • Colombia’s armed forces bomb a FARC encampment in Nariño department, in the southwestern corner of the country, killing at least 20 guerrillas. It is the largest number of guerrilla dead in a single operation since March. FARC negotiator Andrés París tells Reuters, “the raid was the government’s Christmas present while we continue with the cease fire.”

  • President Santos says that he is unwilling to extend talks with the FARC beyond November 2013.
  • In between rounds of talks, government and FARC negotiators trade angry words after FARC leader Sandra Ramírez (partner of the late longtime maximum FARC chief Manuel Marulanda) says that the guerrillas continue to hold police and soldiers hostage. A day later, FARC negotiators Rodrigo Granda and Jesús Santrich contradict Ramírez, insisting that the FARC are no longer holding members of the security forces. Lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle responds that the FARC need to clarify, “without ambiguity,” whether they continue to hold hostages or not. In a statement, the FARC responds that Colombia’s government should also “hold itself accountable to the country” for past human rights abuses.

December 1, 2012

  • The bimonthly Ipsos poll shows Colombian public support for the FARC-government peace talks dropping from 77 percent in September to 57 percent in November. The drop occurs, however, amid a mood of general pessimism following an unrelated event: a mid-November World Court decision that grants Nicaragua dominion over disputed territorial waters in the Caribbean. The same poll shows President Santos’s favorability rating dropping from 60 percent in September to 45 percent in November.

  • On a visit to Colombia, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough tells Semana magazine that the United States has no intention of freeing jailed FARC leader Simón Trinidad, whom the guerrillas say they want on their negotiating team. This position is repeated on December 6 by State Department spokesman Mike Hammer.
  • In a communiqué, the FARC leadership calls for more public participation in the dialogues.

November 29, 2012

  • Colombian government and FARC negotiators conclude the second round of talks, the first to address the first negotiating agenda item (land and rural development), issuing vague but optimistic statements. They announce the launching of a new website, www.mesadeconversaciones.com.co, which presents official documents and communiqués, and allows people to submit proposals to the negotiators.

November 25, 2012

  • In a joint communiqué, government and FARC negotiators announce a public forum on rural development, to be held in Bogotá on December 17-19, to receive “input and proposals” from civil society.

November 24, 2012

  • In a communiqué, FARC negotiators express their “elevated” optimism about the talks, criticize Defense Minister Pinzón as seeking to “sabotage” peace, and reiterate their call for Simón Trinidad to be released from a U.S. prison.


Colombian government negotiators prepare for the sixth day of talks in Havana.

November 23, 2012

  • Before the day’s talks begin, FARC negotiator Rodrigo Granda reads a communiqué asking U.S. President Barack Obama to free FARC leader Simón Trinidad, who is currently in a U.S. prison and whom the guerrillas have symbolically named to their negotiating team.

November 20, 2012

  • Greeting from FARC Secretariat to negotiators and guarantors

November 19, 2012

  • Government and FARC negotiators meet in Havana for a second round of talks, and begin discussing the first point on the negotiating agenda: rural development.
  • Moments before the start of talks, lead FARC negotiator Iván Márquez announces that the guerrillas will unilaterally cease offensive operations against military and police targets, and halt attacks on infrastructure, between November 20 and January 20, 2013. Defense Minister Pinzón responds that Colombia’s armed forces will not reciprocate.

November 15, 2012

  • Speaking from Spain, President Santos says, “this is not peace at any cost. It is a peace with conditions. We have made that explicit. We know perfectly well where the red lines are. We know what we are willing to discuss and what is not on the agenda. … We are not negotiating the State. We are not negotiating the development model. We are not negotiating public policies. What we want is to arrive at an agreement to end the conflict.” Santos reiterates his rejection of a cessation of hostilities while talks are ongoing.
  • After meeting with FARC negotiators in Havana, Carlos Lozano of the Communist weekly Voz says the group is considering a cease-fire during the Christmas holiday. Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón says the government would not reciprocate: “We don’t give any importance to statements that have no coherence.”

November 14, 2012

  • In an interview with Colombian Communist Party weekly Voz, lead FARC negotiator Iván Márquez says the talks could take “less or more than six months; that will depend on the dynamic of popular participation.”

November 13, 2012

  • A joint government-FARC communiqué announces that the start of talks in Havana, originally scheduled for November 15, is postponed until November 19 in order “to finalize details of mechanisms for citizen participation.”

November 12, 2012

  • The ELN issues a communiqué announcing that “the ELN delegation for exploratory dialogue with the government has been formed and is ready,” and calling for a bilateral ceasefire. On November 14 President Santos responds, “at the proper moment we will respond to them through the proper channels,” calling on the ELN to exercise more discretion in its public declarations.

November 9, 2012

  • In an interview with the ANNCOL website, lead FARC negotiator Iván Márquez says “we want the Colombian people, through different organizations, to express their dreams of peace at the negotiating table.”

November 6, 2012

  • Colombian government and FARC members meet in Havana under conditions of tight secrecy.

November 5, 2012

  • “We fully support this process, and should Colombia consider it useful, we are willing to contribute,” said Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota after a meeting with Colombian Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín. Patriota revealed that he had met earlier with Colombia’s high commissioner for peace, Sergio Jaramillo.

October 30, 2012

  • The Gallup polling organization finds 72 percent of Colombians supporting the talks with the FARC.

October 27, 2012

  • “In a few days we will begin conversations with the FARC in Cuba,” says President Santos, “where I hope that if they keep their promises to stay within the agenda that was agreed to and signed, we — I hope — will be able to, finally after 50 years, say to the Colombian people: there is peace in the country.”

October 22, 2012

  • Statement by European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton following the visit to Brussels of Colombian High Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo

October 20, 2012

  • “For our part we propose that, in case it should not be possible to reach an end to the confrontation at this opportunity, we must advance toward the construction of a treaty to regularize the war,” reads a letter from FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez to the Colombian civil-society group Colombians for Peace.

October 19, 2012

  • Remarks by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at Georgetown University

October 18, 2012

  • The Colombian government and FARC hold a joint press conference in Hurdal, Norway. Much media coverage centers on the speech of chief FARC negotiator Iván Márquez, who employs aggressive rhetoric and criticizes Colombia’s political and economic system. Lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle responds that much of what Márquez’s speech criticizes is not included in the agreed-upon agenda for talks.
  • Joint government-FARC declaration
  • Speech of chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle
  • Speech of chief FARC negotiator Iván Márquez
  • Transcript of joint press conference
  • “We’ve all watched the pictures and the conversation and at least some of the press conference this morning from Oslo. This is a huge opportunity. We want to be as supportive as possible,” Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson says at a press briefing in Washington.

October 17, 2012

  • A first round of official contacts between the Colombian government and FARC negotiators will begin in Norway, according to a joint communiqué issued on October 16.

October 15, 2012

  • The arrival of government and FARC negotiators to inaugurate their “Conversations Table” in Oslo, Norway, expected for today, is postponed until the 17th by logistical issues. These reportedly include a last-minute FARC decision to include a Dutch citizen who joined the guerrillas, Tanja Niemeijer, among its negotiating team.
  • Declaration in support of talks from “hundreds of artists, professors, researchers, journalists and community leaders”
  • Interview with FARC negotiator Rodrigo Granda in Havana, by Inter-Press Service

October 12, 2012

  • U.S. State Department Spokesman Mike Hammer: “Here in the United States, of course, we fully support the efforts by the Colombian government to advance the peace process, because one wants to see that the FARC finally abandon its terrorist methods, abandon violence, and cease their links to drug trafficking. So, this peace process is going to start in Oslo soon; let’s hope it is successful, because the Colombian people have been asking for many decades to be able to live in peace and tranquility, and possibly this process can move forward, and we want it to the successful.”

October 11, 2012

  • At the latest national gathering of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) in Bogotá, over 5,000 indigenous people lament the lack of indigenous participation in the FARC talks and issue a peace proposal.

October 10, 2012

  • Meeting with the Colombian Senate and Chamber of Representatives Peace Committees, chief government negotiator Sergio Jaramillo says that a cease-fire with the FARC will only be considered when the negotiations reach their third phase: discussions of implementation. Jaramillo and legislators also announce that eight regional dialogues will be held with the goal of, El Tiempo reports, “Decentralizing the peace process with the FARC and including proposals from civil society.”

October 4, 2012

  • Marco Aurelio García, top foreign-policy advisor to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, authors a letter expressing Brazil’s support for the government-FARC talks.
  • Norwegian Foreign Ministry press release announcing a Colombian government-FARC press conference scheduled for October 17 in Oslo

October 1, 2012

  • From Havana, FARC negotiator Rodrigo Granda reads a communiqué to a Dutch radio station in which the guerrillas announce that talks will begin in Oslo on October 15, and that both the guerrillas and government “will make a public announcement on October 17 in the city of Oslo.” The Colombian government neither confirms nor denies this.
  • President Santos announces he will be operated for prostate cancer on October 3, with “a 97 percent chance of being totally cured.”
  • A FARC open letter to “Simón Trinidad,” the guerrilla leader named to the group’s negotiating team although he is in a U.S. prison, promises, “Ways to make possible your contribution to this [peace] effort will be an object of discussion at the Conversations Table.”
  • Interview with FARC negotiator Marco León Calarcá in Havana, by the Mexico-based website Desde Abajo
  • Interview with Facundo Morales Schoenfeld, commander of the FARC’s Teófilo Forero Column, by a FARC website

September 30, 2012

  • Individuals close to the process reveal that the date for the Oslo launch of formal talks will most likely be October 14, not October 8 as the FARC had announced. The reasons for the delay are logistical: both the difficulty of extracting FARC negotiators from conflict zones and the slow pace of judicial procedures to suspend their arrest warrants.

September 29, 2012

  • “There is much greater support on the part of the United States to avoid having the war continue in Colombia,” says FARC negotiator Rodrigo Granda alias Ricardo Téllez in a lengthy interview with the Spain-based leftist publication Resumen Latinoamericana.

September 28, 2012

  • “You can’t ask the FARC to simply kneel down, surrender and give us the arms. They will not do that, so there has to be some kind of way out, and this way out has to be you can be able to participate in the political arena,” President Santos says in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

September 27, 2012

  • Leaders of the FARC and ELN, after meeting in the “mountains of Colombia,” issue a strongly worded document in which they criticize, among other things, the Peace Framework law passed in June.

September 26, 2012

  • President Santos makes the FARC talks a central theme of his speech before the annual UN General Assembly meetings. “We begin these conversations with moderate optimism,” Santos says, “but with the absolute conviction that it is an opportunity we cannot pass up to reach a peace.”

September 22, 2012

  • FARC Eastern Bloc leader Mauricio “El Médico” Jaramillo, who led the talks’ exploratory phase in Havana, gives an interview to the Colombian daily El Espectador. Asked about how a cease-fire might work, he says “I think that an idea could work like this: we don’t blow up electric towers and the state stops aerial bombings. One point on each side.”

September 19, 2012

  • In an interview with the Communist Party weekly Voz, maximum FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez rejects President Santos’s declaration that the talks must end if they do not make “firm advances” by April-July 2013. “This is an expectation that he [Santos] is generating on his own, contrary to what was agreed in the letter and spirit of the exploratory meetings. There, it was agreed not to add deadlines.”

September 17, 2012

  • The FARC names four out of five “supporting” negotiators: Jesús Santrich, Rubén Zamora, Bernardo Salcedo and Hermes Aguilar. The fifth is believed to be “Sargento Pascuas,” the elderly commander of the Cauca-based Sixth Front and the only surviving FARC founder.

September 13, 2012

  • A FARC leader, speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, reveals the names of the guerrillas’ five-person lead negotiating team: Iván Márquez, Ricardo Téllez (aka Rodrigo Granda), Andrés Paris, Marco León Calarcá and Simón Trinidad. (Trinidad is in a U.S. prison serving a 60-year term.)
  • In an interview with the BBC in Havana [video], FARC spokesman “Rodrigo Granda” says he is “supremely optimistic” about the talks. “Granda” avoids most tough questions, though, saying it is “too early” in the process to answer them.

September 11, 2012

  • President Santos says that if “firm advances” are not made by April-July 2013, “the process will not continue.”
  • A poll commissioned by several of Colombia’s principal media outlets [PDF] finds 77 percent of Colombians approving of President Santos’s decision to initiate peace negotiations with the FARC.

September 9, 2012

  • In a statement, former President Uribe expresses his “concern” that retired Generals Mora and Naranjo, members of the government negotiating team, are “in a negotiation with terrorism,” and compares a negotiation with the FARC to a negotiation with Al Qaeda.

September 7, 2012

  • In interviews with the Associated Press and Colombia’s El Tiempo, FARC spokesman “Marcos Calarcá” says that the FARC remains willing to negotiate, despite the government’s refusal to consider a cease-fire and the near-certainty that “Simón Trinidad” will not be released from prison in the United States.

September 6, 2012

  • Addressing the armed forces, President Santos rejects the FARC’s call for a cease-fire. “I’ve asked you to intensify your actions. There will not be any type of cease-fire. We will not yield anything until we’ve arrived at the final accord. This should be very clear.”

  • In a Havana press conference, FARC representatives say that their negotiating team will be led by Secretariat member “Iván Márquez” and “José Santrich,” Márquez’s deputy in the FARC’s Caribbean Bloc.

They also declare their intention to ask for a bilateral cease-fire when talks begin in Oslo on October 8. In the press conference, Secretariat member Mauricio Jaramillo says that the FARC wants “Simón Trinidad,” a guerrilla leader captured in 2004 and serving a prison sentence in the United States, to be on its negotiating team. (President Santos replies, “The process has to be realistic … there are some things that can be done and others that can’t.”) The FARC representatives then play a new video in which “Timochenko,” seated with “Márquez” and other FARC leaders, declares the guerrillas’ “commitment to persevere in this process.”

September 5, 2012

  • President Santos introduces his negotiating team: former Vice President Humberto de la Calle; business sector leader Luis Carlos Villegas; former National Police Chief Gen. Óscar Naranjo; former Armed Forces Chief Gen. Jorge Mora; National Security Advisor and newly named Peace Commissioner Sergio Jaramillo; and former Environment Minister Frank Pearl.

  • President Santos tells a business convention, “We won’t be able to forgive ourselves … if we fail to seize the opportunity that presents itself to us today.”

September 4, 2012

  • President Santos announces the start of formal peace talks with the FARC.

  • FARC leaders in Havana hold a press conference [video], at which they play a video in which maximum FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez, alias “Timochenko,” announces the start of formal peace talks with the Colombian government [video].

September 3, 2012

  • The FARC releases a music video in which guerrillas rap about their intention to “go to Havana to converse with the bourgeois who couldn’t defeat us.”

  • A statement from the ELN reiterates the smaller guerrilla group’s willingness to negotiate peace under certain circumstances.
  • ACORE, the association of retired Colombian military officers, issues a statement expressing reservations about the peace initiative, but asking that three military representatives be represented in the talks.

August 31, 2012

August 29, 2012

August 28, 2012

August 27, 2012

  • After news of the Havana meetings leaks to the press, President Santos issues a brief statement acknowledging them and promising more information “in the coming days.”

  • In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Nicolás Rodríguez alias “Gabino,” maximum leader of the National Liberation Army (ELN) indicates the smaller group’s willingness to engage in peace talks.

August 26, 2012

  • Meeting in Havana, Colombian government and FARC representatives, along with facilitators from Norway and Cuba, sign a General Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and Building of a Stable and Long-Lasting Peace [PDF].

August 19, 2012

  • In a speech in Sincelejo, Colombia, former President Álvaro Uribe, a critic of negotiations, accuses President Santos of secretly holding talks with the FARC in Cuba.

June 20, 2012

  • Colombia’s Congress approves a constitutional reform [page 30 of this document] that would make possible the demobilization of armed-group members in a future peace process. The “Peace Framework Law” is controversial because it could result in amnesty for all but those “maximally responsible” for crimes against humanity.

April 2, 2012

  • The FARC frees 10 soldiers and police whom it had been holding for many years. President Santos says the gesture is “not enough” and that the guerrillas must also liberate civilians whom they kidnapped for ransom.

February 26, 2012

  • In a statement, the FARC’s leadership announces that it will stop the practice of kidnapping citizens for ransom.

February 23, 2012

  • Representatives of the Colombian government and FARC secretly begin informal talks, dubbed “Exploratory Encounters,” in Havana, Cuba.

January 12, 2012

  • In a statement, “Timochenko” says “we’d be interested in holding a hypothetical table of conversations.”

January 2012

  • Colombian government and FARC emissaries reportedly meet in a rural area of Río de Oro municipality, in the northeastern Colombian department of Cesar. Alejandro Éder, director of the Colombian government’s demobilization program, and another official of the Colombian Presidency’s Social Prosperity office reportedly meet with FARC leaders “Rodrigo Granda” and “Andrés París.” Shortly afterward, a second meeting takes place in Barinas, the hometown of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

December 2011 or January 2012

  • Shortly after the death of “Cano,” Fidel Castro sends a Colombian emissary to meet with the new maximum FARC leader, Timoleón Jiménez alias “Timochenko,” in northeastern Colombia. The FARC leader makes clear his interest in pursuing peace talks. Another senior FARC Secretariat member, alias “Iván Márquez,” is reportedly opposed.

January 2011

  • Maximum FARC leader “Alfonso Cano,” who would be killed in November of that year, gives permission for secret contacts with the Colombian government.

October 2010

  • According to Colombian media, President “Juan Manuel Santos initiated secret contacts with a businessperson from Valle del Cauca department, to serve as a link with the FARC.” This individual was a childhood friend of “Pablo Catatumbo,” a FARC leader active in that area.

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