We are filling in timeline entries between April and July. Some events have yet to be added.
July 12, 2015
- In a joint communiqué, government and FARC negotiators agree to speed the remaining negotiations, to prioritize discussion of a definitive bilateral ceasefire, and to pursue de-escalation measures. The FARC agrees to suspend all offensive actions. The government pledges, after July 20, “to set in motion a process of de-escalation of military actions” corresponding to the FARC’s suspension of offensive actions. A representative of the UN Secretary General and a delegate of the government of Uruguay will be charged with supporting verification and monitoring.
- “We are going to be vigilant over what was agreed today,” President Santos says. “And four months from now, depending on whether the FARC comply, I will make the decision about whether or not we continue with the process.”
July 9, 2015
- With the participation of 50 military personnel, 3 guerrillas, and representatives of Norwegian People’s Aid, the first pilot de-mining project under the peace accord begins in the hamlet of El Orejón, in the northern Antioquia municipality of Briceño, where as many as 3,000 mines are believed to be buried.
July 8, 2015
- The FARC announces a one-month unilateral ceasefire, to go into effect on July 20, Colombia’s independence day. It is the sixth ceasefire that the guerrilla group has declared since talks began in October 2012.
- President Santos downplays the guerrilla announcement. “If the ceasefire were accompanied by concrete commitments on the subject of justice and a definitive ceasefire, then we would be talking about progress,” he says.
- The UN calls the FARC announcement “a very meaningful first step toward the de-escalation of hostilities.”
July 7, 2015
- The two “guarantor” governments (Cuba and Norway) and the two “accompanying” governments (Chile and Venezuela) of the FARC peace talks issue a statement calling on the government and guerrillas to pursue “the urgent de-escalation of the armed conflict.”
- “We want to sign peace with this government,” reads a FARC communiqué.
- “We acknowledge the call for de-escalation with commitments,” President Santos tweets. “We propose to accelerate negotiation of definitive ceasefire.” He adds that a bilateral ceasefire must be “serious, verifiable,” and with concentration of guerrillas in specific zones.
July 6, 2015
- The Colombian conflict-monitoring think-tank CERAC counts 83 FARC offensive actions during the month since the guerrilla group’s unilateral ceasefire ended (May 22 – June 22). June 2015 is the most violent month since the peace process began, with 43% more FARC actions than the group’s monthly average since the talks began. CERAC counts 16 people killed by the FARC: 2 civilians, 9 police, and 5 army personnel.
July 5, 2015
- In a lengthy interview that runs concurrently in several Colombian newspapers, chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle offers a stark assessment of the peace talks’ current state. “The peace process is at its worst moment since we began talks. … I want to tell the FARC in all seriousness, this could end. Some day, it’s probable that they won’t find us around the table in Havana.” De la Calle says that the FARC process will end soon, either through an accord or through a break in the talks. He also holds out the possibility of alternative sentences for the worst human rights defenders (instead of “a jail with striped pajamas”) and of a bilateral ceasefire before a final accord is signed. But he acknowledges that public opinion is a challenge: “The harsh truth is that Colombians don’t believe in the peace process.”
- Citing a UN Office on Drugs and Crime finding that Colombian coca cultivation increased 44 percent in 2014, FARC negotiators call for immediate implementation of the draft drug policy accord it reached with the government in May 2014.
- Campesino movement leaders say that, during a recent meeting with President Santos, the President told them he wants to launch some pilot projects for coca crop substitution that resemble the counter-drug strategy agreed in the government’s third accord with the FARC.
July 3, 2015
- “What information we have points to the ELN as those responsible,” says President Santos of a string of recent small bombs that exploded in Bogotá.
July 2, 2015
- “The parties must return to an effective de-escalation path, one that moves toward a definitive bilateral ceasefire, once negotiations on the crucial transitional justice issue are sufficiently consolidated,” reads a report on the FARC talks from the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.
June 30, 2015
- The latest bimonthly Gallup poll [PDF] shows a sharp drop in Colombians’ belief in the peace process. Only 33 percent of those polled—the lowest ever—say that they believe the current talks will result in an accord to end the armed conflict. For the first time since 2003, more respondents (46%) favor “no dialogue and try to defeat them militarily” over “insist on dialogues until a peace accord is reached” (45%) as “the best option to solve the guerrilla problem in Colombia.”
June 24, 2015
- The U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere holds a hearing about Colombia’s peace process, the first in the U.S. Congress since the talks began. “We are at a difficult stage in the talks. But both President Santos and the FARC have remained at the negotiating table,” testifies [PDF] Special Envoy Bernard Aronson. “The talks could accelerate and lead to breakthroughs or the talks could falter and start to fail. What is clear, however, is that we must continue our engagement.” Most members of Congress in attendance voice concern about recent battlefield violence but are generally supportive of the process. Two Republican members voice skepticism.
- In his first press conference as Colombia’s new defense minister, former government peace negotiator Luis Carlos Villegas says that the government will only consider a bilateral ceasefire “when it is the end of the negotiation, when we have full capacity to verify it, to make it certain, and when everyone is certain that we are headed toward disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of guerrillas. Not before then.”
June 23, 2015
- The Bogotá think-tank CERAC, which tracks conflict events, reports 86 offensive actions likely involving the FARC in the month since the group revoked its unilateral ceasefire. Colombia’s Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (Defensoría del Pueblo) counts 38 FARC attacks on civilian targets, mostly infrastructure, in the previous month.
- A FARC statement again calls on President Santos to agree to a cessation of hostilities.
- The new defense minister, former peace negotiator Luis Carlos Villegas, rejects that idea. “The bilateral ceasefire will be agreed when it is definitive, when the negotiation is at its end, when we have full capacity to verify it.” Villegas adds, “If peace does not occur through political negotiation—which is what I’ve believed in for all my life—I will also be ready for what would be the armed forces’ most victorious period.”
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ representative in Colombia, Todd Howland, suggests a two-week or monthlong ceasefire “to reduce tensions” and allow advances at the negotiating table.
June 22, 2015
- Government and FARC negotiators begin the 38th round of talks in Havana.
- An ELN statement alleges that the United States and Europe promote peace in order to advance their economic interests in Colombia.
June 21, 2015
- “The days are gone in which one side would greet the other in a natural sort of way in the halls of Havana’s Hotel Palco,” writes Semana magazine columnist María Jimena Duzán, of the government and guerrilla negotiators. “What is perceived today is a tension, which slows the momentum and which weighs on them when they happen to make eye contact and greet each other with gritted teeth.”
- “In the history of wars, deadlines have proven to be fatal for states, more than for their adversaries,” says Juan Carlos Pinzón, en route to Washington as Colombia’s U.S. ambassador after nearly four years as defense minister. “If we decide to set deadlines, that could generate perverse incentives.”
- Former President César Gaviria says he favors granting President Santos special executive powers to implement peace accords. “He needs these faculties on many fronts. With regard to transitional justice, because non-combatants aren’t included, and because the issue of those most responsible [for human rights crimes] is complicated in the armed forces.”
June 18, 2015
- Antonio Navarro Wolff and Claudia López, senators from Colombia’s Green Party, which has been supportive of the peace negotiations, call for a ballot measure, to accompany October 25, 2015 local elections, proposing an April 9, 2016 deadline for the FARC peace talks.
June 16, 2015
- Colombia’s Peace and Reconciliation Foundation think-tank, which monitors the conflict, counts 147 armed actions in the 25 days since the FARC declared an end to its unilateral ceasefire, “the great majority of them FARC offensive actions.” During the entire December-May truce period, the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation counted 91 armed actions, of which 12—including the April 15 Buenos Aires, Cauca attack—were apparent FARC violations of its own ceasefire.
June 15, 2015
- This week sees a further intensification of the FARC’s post-truce offensive. Guerrillas execute two policemen, one a colonel, in Nariño. Oil pipeline bombings cause environmental damage in Norte de Santander, Putumayo, and Nariño, with the latter attack causing a large riverine oil spill. Several other populations, including the Pacific coastal cities of Buenaventura and Tumaco, suffer lengthy electricity blackouts after power pylons are dynamited.
June 14, 2015
- Former President Álvaro Uribe, now an opposition senator highly critical of the FARC peace talks, issues a proposal laying out terms for a bilateral cease-fire. It hinges on the concentration of FARC members in specific, unpopulated areas of the country during the cease-fire. Uribe’s proposal would allow the concentrated FARC members to remain armed and to receive financial support, and would contemplate international verification. It receives a mixed reception among Colombia’s political class: some view it as proposing unworkable conditions, others see it as a possible opening offer in cease-fire talks with the guerrillas.
June 13, 2015
- “If with these senseless, cowardly acts the FARC intends to bring me to a bilateral ceasefire, they’re wrong,” says President Santos during a visit to Rome. “Señores of the FARC, make no mistake. That road that you have taken is not the right road, the only possible road is to accelerate the conversations and arrive soon at some accords, as Colombians demand.”
June 4, 2015
- At the close of the 37th round of talks in Havana, government and FARC negotiators announce an accord laying out the structure and mandate of a “Commission for Clarification of the Truth, Coexistence, and Non-Repetition.” This commission, which would have eleven members including up to three foreigners, would have six months to establish itself and three years to function after the signing of a final peace accord.
May 26, 2015
- The chief of Colombia’s armed forces, Gen. Juan Pablo Rodríguez, tells a Colombian Senate hearing that, in his view, the military must remain at its current size after a peace accord is signed. “Though it’s true that the objective is to reach an accord for the end of the conflict, that doesn’t mean that peace was achieved. More threats can come.”
- In remarks given in Spain, the Colombian government’s inspector-general (Procurador), Alejandro Ordóñez, a critic of the FARC talks, says that the peace process is “in intensive care.”
May 25, 2015
- A FARC statement reads, “The sorrowful events that occurred last week are a step backward in the advances made until now at the table in Havana.” It calls for the return of killed fighters’ bodies to their families, for negotiation of a bilateral ceasefire, and for a constitutional convention to re-write Colombia’s constitution.
- “The moment has come to stop congratulating ourselves for deaths,” President Santos says. “The dialogues need a strong stimulus—I agree—and that’s why I reiterate once more my request to accelerate the negotiations, including those that may bring about a bilateral and definitive ceasefire. When I say ‘bilateral and definitive,’ this must include an end to any participation in any kind of crime: narcotrafficking, extortion, illegal mining.” The President says he has ordered the coroner’s office to return guerrilla cadavers to relatives, as the FARC requested.
- A military operation in Chocó department kills veteran guerrilla leader “Román Ruiz,” commander of the FARC’s 18th Front, who was leading the FARC’s Northwestern Bloc while its commander, “Pastor Alape,” serves as a negotiator in Havana.
May 22, 2015
- On the first day of the 37th round of talks, in response to the Colombian military’s renewed air raids, the FARC declares an end to its five-month-old unilateral ceasefire and demands that the negotiating parties work separately. Both sides’ negotiators do not meet in Havana until May 25th.
- During the 153-day ceasefire, “such low levels of conflict violence had not been registered since 1984,” reports the conflict-monitoring think-tank CERAC.
May 21, 2015
- A Colombian military and police air raid kills 27 members of the FARC’s 29th front in Guapi, Cauca. Another aerial attack kills 10 FARC guerrillas in Segovia, Antioquia on May 23. Among the dead in Guapi is Jairo Martínez, who spent time in Havana as a supporting member of the FARC’s negotiating team.
- “Everything indicates that we have received a very hard blow that affects us internally,” reads an intercepted e-mail order from maximum FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez. “All who have targets must begin to act as soon as possible.”
May 20, 2015
- Colombia’s government adds two non-plenipotentiary members to its negotiating team: Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín, who will serve in Havana on a part-time basis; and prominent businessman Gonzalo Restrepo.
- U.S. Special Envoy Bernard Aronson meets in Caracas with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to discuss how the two countries can support “a mutually acceptable solution” to Colombia’s conflict. The visit reportedly responded to an invitation from Maduro, who said he spoke to Aronson until “after midnight.”
May 19, 2015
- Colombia’s government announces that Luis Carlos Villegas, a former peace negotiator and current ambassador to the United States, will switch jobs with Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón, who has held that post since 2011.
May 18, 2015
- At some point during this week, FARC negotiators pay quick visits to sites in Meta and Antioquia to update guerrilla fighters about advances in the negotiations. While visiting the Yarí plains in Meta, guerrilla leader Henry Castellanos alias “Romaña” reportedly says that areas where landmine removal occurs should be considered off-limits for future conflict. “What we have agreed so far is that it’s a zone in which it will be prohibited to bomb again, to lay mines in again, it will be prohibited to return to confrontations in that place.”
May 14, 2015
- The Colombian government’s National Narcotics Council, following President Santos’s recommendation, votes to suspend a program that for 21 years has sprayed herbicides from aircraft over zones were coca is grown. Stopping the program had been a longtime FARC demand, and the accord on “Solution to the Problem of Illicit Drugs” would have curbed the practice sharply.
April 15, 2015
- FARC guerrillas attack members of an army mobile brigade in the village of Buenos Aires, in Timba municipality in Cauca department, killing 11 and wounding 17. Faced with charges that they violated their own unilateral ceasefire, guerrilla negotiators in Havana insist that the action was defensive. Subsequent shows of public outrage throw the peace talks into crisis.
April 12, 2015
- In an interview with Colombia’s El Espectador newspaper, maximum ELN leader Nicolás Rodríguez says, “We value and view with respect the FARC comrades’ efforts in the peace process, …however, with regard to agenda points and focuses, as well as society’s participation, we have another way of understanding advances and developments.”
April 11, 2015
- President Santos and U.S. President Barack Obama hold a bilateral meeting alongside the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, where most presidents’ declarations included expressions of support for Colombia’s peace process. “I want to congratulate President Santos on his extraordinary efforts to bring about an end to a conflict that has plagued Colombia for too long,” Obama says. “The United States is very proud to support that effort. I’ve deployed envoy Bernard Aronson, with deep experience in the region, to be supportive of President Santos’s efforts. As you’ve heard, I think, in the plenary, this is an issue that many people care deeply about. It entails some risks, the FARC, but President Santos I believe is doing the right thing, and we want to be as helpful as we can in the process.”
April 10, 2015
- The 35th round of government-FARC talks begins in Havana.
- FARC statement
April 9, 2015
- In commemoration of a National Day for Victims, thousands, including President Santos, march for peace in several Colombian cities. The day marks the 67th anniversary of the assassination of political leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, which set off an era of violence that has ebbed and flowed ever since.
- President Santos extends for another month the freeze on aerial bombings of FARC targets.
- Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón reiterates that ex-combatants will not be welcome in the security forces after a peace accord. “In no way do we imagine those who were in criminality carrying weapons or uniforms of the Republic.”
April 8, 2015
- Tensions increase between President Santos and the country’s Inspector-General (Procurador), Alejandro Ordóñez, who has voiced frequent criticism of the government’s handling of negotiations with the FARC. After Santos calls the Inspector-General’s criticisms “untruthful attacks on the process,” Ordóñez publicizes a list of 45 questions about victims, transitional justice, and post-conflict implementation. Santos says that the Presidency will create a web page to respond to these and other frequently asked public questions about the process.
April 7, 2015
- In a press conference, retired Army Gen. Jorge Mora confirms that he remains on the government’s principal negotiating team. His absence from the last round of Havana talks, along with President Santos’s comments that Gen. Mora no longer needed to serve as one of the permanent five negotiators, had generated discontent among retired military officers and conservative politicians.
- Colombia’s Army states that three soldiers died in incidents instigated by the FARC during the previous thirty days, despite the FARC’s declared unilateral cease-fire. The incidents, which include one soldier killed by a landmine, occurred in Cauca and Meta.
April 2, 2015
- The Vatican announces that Pope Francis will visit Colombia at a yet-to-be-announced date. The Pope’s letter to Colombia’s Catholic leadership calls on them to “take the risks of putting into place peace from the victims’ perspective.”
April 1, 2015
- In a speech at the Army’s base in Tolemaida, Tolima, President Santos denounces a campaign, including the participation of some retired generals, to foster division within the armed forces by spreading lies about the peace process. “It hurts me much that, within the armed forces themselves, there are people interested in dividing you or acting in bad faith.”
- Transitional justice, says Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón, “Is not for the armed forces, they don’t need that benefit. Ninety-nine percent of our military and police personnel don’t face judicial processes related to human rights violations or criminal problems associated with the conflict.”
- Retired armed-forces chief Gen. Jorge Mora, one of the government’s principal negotiators in Havana, says: “On one occasion talking with [lead FARC negotiator Iván] Márquez, I told him: Márquez, this is the last chance the FARC has to reach the end of the conflict, because we now have five… in Casa Verde, in Caracas, in Tlaxcala, in the Caguán, and this is the fifth opportunity with the FARC. So have no doubt, Márquez. This is the last, there won’t be a next opportunity to reach the end of the conflict through a peace process.”
- Germany names a special commissioner for the peace talks in Colombia: Tom Koenigs, who had served as the German government’s human rights commissioner.
March 27, 2015
- The 34th round of FARC-government talks ends in Havana.
- Joint communiqué.
- Lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle says that the negotiators made progress on the “Victims” accord, and are nearly done with arrangements to begin de-mining activities in Antioquia and Meta departments. He adds that “a group made up of delegates from the Ministries of Defense and Justice, of the Armed Forces’ Transition Command, the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace, and domestic and international experts” is working on proposals for transitional justice for military and police personnel accused of human rights abuses.
- Inspector-General (Procurador) Alejandro Ordóñez declares himself “perplexed” by the reported exit of retired Army Gen. Jorge Mora and retired Police Gen. Óscar Naranjo from the government’s main negotiating team, saying it “generates distrust in the security forces and among citizens.” President Santos replies, “I ask the Inspector-General to stop playing politics, to stop sticking himself into the peace process, since that is a responsibility of mine, of the President of the Republic.” On March 29, Santos tweets, “In what language do I have to repeat that Gens. Mora and Naranjo are still plenipotentiary negotiators and will be in Havana for the next round?”
March 26, 2015
- President Santos says that a peace accord will allow Colombia’s security forces to do more to fight crime in cities. “In the future we won’t have 14,000 soldiers there in the jungles of the Caguán, instead we’ll have 14,000 men protecting our citizens here in Medellín, on the roads, in the cities.”
March 25, 2015
- FARC negotiators thank Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, for expressing support for the peace process during a March 24 visit to Bogotá.
March 24, 2015
- The “End of Conflict” Subcommittee, which includes several high-ranking active-duty military officers, meets again in Havana to discuss issues like a cease-fire, disarmament, and demobilization.
- FARC March 26 message to this Subcommittee
March 23, 2015
- Guerrilla negotiator Pablo Catatumbo warns against excessive optimism about the peace process. “To talk about irreversibility isn’t helpful for the process,” he says. “Much remains to be gotten through before we can say everything is almost ready.”
March 22, 2015
- Interviewed by the Colombian daily El Tiempo, the chief of Colombia’s armed forces, Gen. Juan Pablo Rodríguez, criticizes “disinformation that is managed through social networks. They talk about a sector of the military’s supposed discontent with the process. If there is someone who has supported this process, it is us. At no moment have we been, nor will we be, an obstacle for peace.”
March 21, 2015
- Colombia’s Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (Defensoría del Pueblo) reports that while the FARC has kept its pledge not to carry out military attacks, its hostilities against the population—threats, extortion, landmine detonations, confinement, and similar crimes—have continued.
March 19, 2015
- The FARC’s unilateral cease-fire “is dissolving in practice, and it pains us to acknowledge it, because there have been so many attacks and operations targeting our positions that our people have been forced to respond,” lead guerrilla negotiator Iván Márquez told reporters.
March 17, 2015
- The 34th round of talks begins in Havana between Colombian government and FARC negotiators, with the “Victims” agenda item the main point of discussion.
- Colombia’s post-conflict “super-minister,” retired police Gen. Óscar Naranjo, says that government-FARC teams will begin work on de-mining projects within six weeks.
March 16, 2015
- Following the first meeting of the Advisory Committee for Peace, President Santos announces that the two retired security-force officers on the government’s central negotiating team, Army Gen. Jorge Mora and Police Gen. Óscar Naranjo, will be stepping down. “The decision has been made that the [End of Conflict] Subcommittee [which is made up of active-duty generals] will meet,” Santos said, and that as a result “the permanent presence of Gen. Mora and Gen. Naranjo aren’t going to be necessary.” On March 20, Santos clarifies that both remain on the government negotiating team, but not as one of the five principal, “plenipotentiary” members.
March 15, 2015
- Former President Álvaro Uribe, the FARC talks’ most vocal critic, asks the government to slow the pace of the talks “to avoid signing agreements that will harm our democracy.” Uribe suggests concentrating FARC fighters into specific areas of the country while the slowed-down talks take place. President Santos rejects this idea as “illogical.”
- Asked by Colombia’s El Espectador whether he will ask the United States to repatriate imprisoned FARC leader Simón Trinidad, as the guerrillas have requested, President Santos responds, “There is no worse errand than that one that isn’t done. But it doesn’t look easy in the near future.” Asked about a possible bilateral cease-fire, Santos says that many points must first be agreed, “especially a verification system that is serious and credible for all, which will probably be international.”
March 14, 2015
- “Advances have been made in the preparation of an Agenda,” notes a tweet from the ELN. “It hasn’t concluded, but only one point remains and work continues to define it with clarity.” According to the guerrilla group, a round of secret talks with government representatives ended on March 8.
March 13, 2015
- “We agree that there cannot be peace without impunity,” says chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle after a meeting with President Santos and Internal Affairs Chief (Procurador General) Alejandro Ordóñez.
March 11, 2015
- Despite the government’s freeze on aerial bombardments, Colombia’s armed forces will use “all the tools at its disposal” to combat the FARC, says Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón.
- Inspector-General (Procurador) Alejandro Ordóñez criticizes President Santos’s announced freeze: “This announcement means the paralysis of the armed forces against the FARC while that group continues impacting the civilian population with a range of crimes.”
- Ordóñez also writes a letter to Former President Álvaro Uribe asking the peace-process critic to participate in the Advisory Committee for Peace that President Santos announced the previous day. Uribe declines.
- “I have not ruled out the possibility of a bilateral cease-fire before we agree on other points,” President Santos tells the Wall Street Journal.
March 10, 2015
- President Santos announces a one-month cessation of aerial bombings of FARC encampments.
- In a March 13 statement, FARC negotiators question the “generosity” of President Santos’s announcement, calling it a ploy to distract from the Army’s March 8 killing, in an ambush, of the commander of the guerrilla group’s 57th Front in Chocó.
- President Santos invites several top political figures, including some critics of the FARC peace process, to join an Advisory Committee for Peace. Former President Andrés Pastrana and Former Defense Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez, both from Colombia’s Conservative Party, accept the invitation; Former President Álvaro Uribe and members of his Democratic Center Party turn Santos down. Other members are Clara López of the leftist Polo Democrático party; Antanas Mockus, two-time former mayor of Bogotá; Bogotá Cardinal Rubén Salazar; Bancolombia President Carlos Raúl Yepes; CGT labor union President Julio Roberto Gómez; Former Defense Minister Gen. (R) Rafael Samudio; former M–19 guerrilla leader Vera Grabe; Former Culture Minister Paula Moreno; and indigenous leader Ati Quigua.
- On March 18, FARC negotiators describe the Commission as “elitist and exclusive” and “not taking into account all sectors of political, social, and economic life existing in the country.”
March 9, 2015
- The Colombian government postpones the extradition to the United States of captured FARC leader Eduardo Cabrera, alias “El Cura,” in what is widely interpreted as a signal to FARC negotiators that they will not be extradited for past crimes if they demobilize. Cabrera, the brother of Southern Bloc leader and Havana negotiator Fabián Ramírez, faces a U.S. indictment for narcotrafficking and was captured in November 2013.
March 8, 2015
- Thousands of Colombians, including President Santos, participate in a march for “peace and life” first proposed by former Bogotá mayor Antanas Mockus.
March 7, 2015
- The 33rd round of talks between the Colombian government and the FARC ends in Havana.
- Government and FARC negotiators announce an agreement to begin humanitarian landmine removal projects. The joint statement reveals a methodology for collaborative work, together with Norwegian People’s Aid, to identify and remove anti-personnel mines, improvised explosive devices, and unexploded ordnance.
- Statement of lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle
- A statement from FARC negotiators says both sides are “ready to write the accord on conflict victims,” the talks’ current agenda item.
March 5, 2015
- The bimonthly Gallup poll [PDF] finds 72 percent of Colombian respondents supporting the government’s decision to negotiate with the FARC. This is 10 points higher than the same poll found in December. For only the second time since the talks started, Gallup finds a majority—53 percent—optimistic that an accord may be reached.
- FARC proposal on “political and social pardon as a foundation of the national reconciliation process”
March 4, 2015
- FARC negotiator Joaquín Gómez calls on the government to declassify and release documents in official archives, which could be released to a special commission even before an accord is reached.
- FARC “first proposal for clarification of historical truth”
March 3, 2015
- FARC negotiators release an “eighth minimum proposal” for the “Victims” agenda item. In an additional “brief reflection,” the document states, “Let it be known that no accord is possible that would impose a single day in prison for any guerrilla for having exercised the right to rebel, a precious gift of humanity, in order to end the injustices our people have suffered.”
- “I hope that peace arrives soon, it’s good for Colombia, it’s good for Latin America, and it’s good for the whole world,” says Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy during a visit from President Santos.
March 2, 2015
- Former President Uribe tells the EFE news service, “If they need to take a long time to reach accords in Havana that don’t affect democracy or private enterprise, we don’t oppose those dialogues being prolonged indefinitely on one condition: … [that] the FARC agree to concentrate all of its structures in one site, under the international community’s supervision.”
March 1, 2015
- U.S. Special Envoy Bernard Aronson holds separate closed-door meetings with Colombian government and FARC negotiators in Havana. None involved reveal anything about the discussions’ content. It was the first meeting between a U.S. government representative and FARC representatives since 1998. President Santos says Aronson’s visit shows “the political significance of the United States’ commitment to the process.”
- Statement from chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle
- A delegation of four active-duty generals and a rear admiral travels to Havana to meet with FARC negotiators. They are part of the “End of Conflict Subcommittee,” led on the government side by a fifth active-duty general, Javier Flórez. “The possibility of a bilateral cease-fire is being looked at, being analyzed,” says Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín. “The country should feel tranquil with confidence that those who are going to speak about these issues are experts who will not let the other side score goals,” Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón says. The delegation is composed of two Army brigadier generals, Martín Fernando Nieto and Alfonso Rojas Tirado, del Ejército; Air Force Brigadier General Oswaldo Rivera; Navy Rear Admiral Orlando Romero, de la Armada; and Police Brigadier General Álvaro Pico.
- FARC statements 1 – 2 on “End of Conflict Subcommittee” (released March 5)
- Shlomo Ben Ami, the former Israeli foreign minister who serves as an informal peace advisor to President Santos, reveals at a Bogotá conference that the Colombian government raised with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden the possibility of releasing Ricardo Palmera, alias “Simón Trinidad,” a FARC leader extradited to the United States in 2004. Since the peace talks’ beginning, the FARC has sought to gain Simón Trinidad’s release and to include him on its negotiating team. Trinidad is serving a 60-year sentence in the “Supermax” federal prison in Colorado for his intermediary role in the FARC’s 2003–2008 imprisonment of three U.S. defense contractors. On March 3, President Santos says that despite Ben Ami’s comments, the Simon Trinidad issue has not come up in communications with the United States.
- Reports from the Broad Front for Peace and the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (released February 23) find that the FARC has almost completely honored the unilateral cease-fire declared on December 20. The Peace and Reconciliation report finds that, in part due to its declared truces, violent actions initiated by the FARC dropped by 40 percent between 2013 and 2014. Actions by the ELN, however, increased by 43 percent from 2012 to 2014.
- “We’ve never seen the FARC this committed to the process,” President Santos says in an interview with Spain’s El País. Asked about U.S. requests to extradite FARC leaders, Santos says, “We must find a solution to that. Nobody is going to turn in weapons only to go and die in a U.S. jail. That’s totally unrealistic. That is now a responsibility of mine in my relations with the United States, to find a solution to that.”
February 28, 2015
- “This year we’re going to begin a dialogue with the ELN,” President Santos tells the Spanish news agency EFE. “I’m almost sure that it will be so.” He notes that the ELN is slower to make decisions because it “has a different structure, it’s more about taking collective decisions. They have to consult among themselves, they have another way of thinking about many issues.” Asked whether voters might ratify an agreement with the FARC in October, Santos responds affirmatively.
February 26, 2015
- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, sends a letter to U.S. Special Envoy Bernard Aronson warning that “the outcome of the ongoing negotiations between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) could have serious and long lasting effect on the national security interest of the United States and Colombia.” Rubio calls on Aronson to refuse to release any FARC members imprisoned in the United States, to continue to insist on extradition of FARC members wanted in the United States, and to insist on continued aerial eradication of coca.
- Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan travels to Havana and meets with Colombian government and FARC representatives. Appearing before reporters, Annan says that demobilized guerrillas may have to face prison time: “Those maximally responsible must be accountable to justice.” On February 27, FARC negotiator Jesús Santrich calls Annan’s comment “unfortunate… It surely doesn’t help the peace process to advance at all, what it does is confuse and place more obstacles in the way.”
- Statement from chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle on Annan visit
- FARC request for a “second exchange of ideas” with Annan
- Ex-President Uribe leaks an internal Colombian Army communication indicating that the FARC, despite its declared cease-fire, may be planning attacks. When challenged about the leak, Uribe says, “The President of the Republic has de-authorized the Armed Forces’ initiative action against terrorism … the Armed Forces’ task is not to negotiate with terrorism, but to give security to us Colombians.”
February 25, 2015
- The 33rd round of talks begins in Havana between Colombian government and FARC negotiators.
- Speaking at a Bogotá conference co-hosted by the Kofi Annan Foundation and the International Center for Transitional Justice, Sergio Jaramillo, the Colombian government’s high commissioner for peace, calls for establishing “a special tribunal for the termination of the conflict that can administer justice” and a truth commission.
- In his own comments at the same event, President Santos warns, “we don’t want to sign a peace accord that later ends up being defeated in the courts,” referring to what might happen to a transitional justice model that is viewed as too lenient.
February 24, 2015
- “I have a vehement reproach for the FARC,” says chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle. “ It seems to me that their statements have been full of dodges, of excuses, and that what Colombians want is a categorical recognition of their victims, of the acts they have committed.” While the FARC have respected their declared cease-fire, de la Calle adds, “Other hostilities that affect the population continue. There is extortion, there is combination with elements close to narcotrafficking, that has not ended.” On Twitter, FARC chief negotiator Iván Márquez contends that de la Calle “sees the conflict’s reality with the eyes of a judge and participant.”
February 22, 2015
- “For the guerrillas, zero jail. No peace process in the world has ended with the insurgency’s leaders behind bars,” lead FARC negotiator Iván Márquez tells a Colombian TV interviewer. He adds that rather than abandoning its weapons, the FARC would stop using them “politically.”
- The Colombian government’s high commissioner for peace, Sergio Jaramillo, responds, “The guerrillas think that if we don’t guarantee them impunity, they won’t put down their weapons. If that is their thinking, there won’t be an agreement, there won’t be peace.”
- Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón asks the media to stop giving so much coverage to FARC leaders because “they are not Colombians in a state of legality, and they shouldn’t have space to speculate, to lie, or to issue information as if they were any good citizen.”
February 20, 2015
- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announces the nomination of Bernard Aronson to be the first special envoy for the Colombian peace process. Aronson served as assistant secretary of state for Inter-American Affairs during the George H.W. Bush administration (1989–1993), at a time when the U.S. government supported the peace process in El Salvador. “We have no blueprint made in Washington to offer,“ Aronson says. ”We will not take a place at the negotiating table, but we can push, prod, cajole, and clarify and help wherever we can.”
- Statement of President Santos
- Statement of FARC negotiators
February 19, 2015
- A FARC statement alleges that, despite the group’s unilateral cease-fire, Colombian armed forces continued to initiate attacks in the eastern plains.
February 18, 2015
- After a peace accord, President Santos says, “We’re going to be able to use those resources that are concentrated on war to give more security to common citizens.”
February 17, 2015
- The World Bank and the government of Sweden announce a Multi-Donor Peace and Post-Conflict Fund for Colombia.
- Statement of President Santos
- “There is no place for a general amnesty,” President Santos says. “That is beyond any consideration. … The alternative sentences that will be considered must be effective, authentic penalties, and not simple simulations.”
February 16, 2015
- Appearing on a Colombian radio show, lead FARC negotiator Iván Márquez says that only 13 FARC members are under 15 years old, and that all will be discharged. However, statistics from Colombia’s child welfare agency (ICBF) indicate that of the 5,708 minors who have demobilized from armed groups since 1999, 60 percent said they were FARC members.
February 15, 2015
- Former President César Gaviria proposes a transitional justice scheme that would include not just guerrillas and military officers, but also civilians who aided and abetted violence. All, in Gaviria’s proposal, would have to confess human rights crimes and contribute to reparations. Non-combatants, though, would avoid prison, as would lower-ranking military officers. FARC negotiators “hail” the proposal for “saying that there’s not just one side responsible.”
- “After long and intense conversations maintained throughout last year, hopefully this year will see the result that many desire within Colombia,” says German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a visit to Colombia.
February 13, 2015
- Colombia’s Defense Ministry and the U.S. Southern Command co-host a private discussion in Cartagena for military officers about the implications of the peace process and the post-conflict.
February 12, 2015
- The 32nd round of FARC-government talks ends in Havana.
- Joint communiqué from government and FARC negotiators, including explanation of the mandate of the “End of Conflict Subcommittee”
- FARC negotiators announce that the group is raising its minimum recruitment age from 15 to 17 years old. They do not promise to discharge members currently under 17. “I don’t understand why 17 years of age? The established norm is 18, and I don’t understand why they’ve only gone halfway,” President Santos says.
- The FARC’s step is “still not enough,” says lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle.
- Colombia’s Supreme Court approves the extradition to the United States, to face narcotrafficking charges, of paramilitary leader Rodrigo Pérez Alzate, alias “Julián Bolívar.” The extradition is notable because “Bolívar” had served an eight-year sentence under the “Justice and Peace Law” transitional-justice framework that governed the AUC paramilitaries’ demobilization, and was regarded to have cooperated with judicial authorities in confessing his human rights crimes. Though the Court found that Bolívar had not stopped engaging in drug trafficking after his demobilization, observers in Colombia’s media speculated about the extradition’s possible impact on the talks with the FARC.
February 11, 2015
- Ex-President Álvaro Uribe, along with a group of members of his Democratic Center political party, pays a two-day visit to Washington. His principal message is one of opposition to the peace process. White House staff do not meet with Uribe, but the Ex-President documents meetings with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Florida), and Henry Cuéllar (D-Texas). Uribe planned a public event during his visit, but it is canceled.
- President Santos offers to sit down with the right-wing opposition to talk about the peace process: “I’m sure that if we sit down together, I can convince them that we’re not going to disappear the Army here, nor are we going to hand over the Police so that a FARC comandante becomes its director, nor are we going to deliver the country to communism.”
- Despite the FARC’s declared cease-fire, Colombia’s Human Rights Ombudsman’s office (Defensoría del Pueblo) accuses the guerrilla group of continued “constraint, pressure, and intimidation” of civilian populations in several parts of the country.
February 10, 2015
- The Historical Commission On the Conflict and Its Victims issues its 800-page report on the causes of Colombia’s conflict. In August 2014, the the FARC and government negotiators charged the Commission, a panel of 12 scholars and two editors, with drafting a report explaining reasons why the armed conflict began and was prolonged. The report is made up of 12 essays, one by each contributor, representing a range of political views.
- FARC statement on report release (issued February 12)
- FARC negotiators announce that the group will maintain its unilateral cease-fire.
- ACORE, the association of retired military officers that has maintained a very critical line about the peace process, hosts a discussion among experts called “Pact for Peace.” Among invited speakers are some prominent supporters of the peace process from the political left.
- 71 percent of respondents to a National Consultancy Center poll say they approve of President Santos’s decision to begin negotiations with the FARC, up from 68 percent in January. 54 percent believe that the current process may end the conflict, up from 48 percent in January.
February 9, 2015
- Colombian government Internal Affairs Chief (Procurador General) Alejandro Ordóñez sends the FARC a letter reiterating his claim, already made in a message to the International Criminal Court, that the guerrilla group is responsible for 2,760 forced disappearances. “The FARC have to be serious, to show their faces and stop believing that they can hide their crimes with rhetoric,” it reads. A day earlier, FARC negotiators had accused Ordóñez of “not seeking, but making up false evidence” against the group.
- A Datexco poll finds 42 percent of Colombian respondents approving of President Santos’s conduct of the peace talks, up 8 points from November. 42 percent believe the talks will reach an accord, up 6 points from November.
February 7, 2015
- The FARC issues a proposal for “demilitarization of society and reform of the military forces and the police” and a proposal for “provision and real and material non-repetition guarantees.”
February 6, 2015
- FARC negotiators invite Colombian citizen Paulina Vega, recent winner of the Miss Universe pageant, to meet with them in Havana “about your desire to contribute with your good offices to reach peace and reconciliation.”
February 5, 2015
- In an interview with Bogotá’s Canal Capital television station, the leader of the ELN, Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista alias “Gabino,” is pessimistic about near-term peace prospects. “We do not see the possibility (of negotiations) in the short term and we have always said that a peace process is not a matter of months.”
- Gen. Javier Flórez, the active-duty officer heading the Colombian government’s representation on the FARC peace talks’ “End of Conflict Subcommittee,” travels to Havana. “The presence of General Flórez in Havana guarantees institutionally and represents the Armed Forces,” tweets Gen. Juan Pablo Rodríguez, the commander of Colombia’s armed forces.
- A Cifras y Conceptos poll finds 47 percent of Colombian respondents believing that the FARC negotiations will end well, up from 39 percent in December.
February 4, 2015
- “The guerrillas don’t want to be the first ones in history to turn in their weapons only to go to a jail, but at the same time, today’s world is different and we have a national and international jurisprudence that don’t allow pardons or amnesties as they did in the past,” President Santos says in a speech before Colombia’s diplomatic corps.
- FARC negotiators issue a proposal for a special reparations fund for victims.
February 3, 2015
- In a message to Colombia’s security forces, ELN leader Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, alias “Gabino,” proposes creating zones in which neither side carries out military operations. The government does not respond positively.
- FARC negotiators issue a proposal for “full recognition of conflict victims’ rights.”
- FARC Secretariat declaration denouncing continued paramilitary activity around the country.
February 2, 2015
- Colombian government and FARC negotiators begin a 32nd round of talks in Havana.
- “In this new start of dialogues, we want to begin writing down the accord on victims,” tweets lead FARC negotiator Iván Márquez.
- “We must moderate our optimism. The largest knot is that of transitional justice. There are still considerable distances between the government and the FARC,” says lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle.
- FARC statement
- Negotiators meet in Havana with Norway’s foreign minister, Borge Brende.
January 31, 2015
- President Santos denies rumors of an imminent announcement of a launch of ELN peace talks.
January 30, 2015
- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon issues a statement noting that he “is encouraged that the year has begun with optimism in Colombia about the prospects for reaching a peace agreement in 2015.”
January 28, 2015
- Regional heads of state at the third summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) approve a special declaration of support for Colombia’s peace process.
January 27, 2015
- A FARC communiqué claims that military attacks during the guerrillas’ declared unilateral truce have killed six FARC members and fourteen soldiers. FARC negotiators “alert our guerrilla forces throughout the country about the serious situation,” implying that the group may call off its truce if the military continues offensive actions.
January 26, 2015
- Visiting France, President Santos receives strong words of support for the peace process from Prime Minister François Hollande. “There is will to see this through to the end, and I want to give not only political support, but also the guarantee that France and the European Union will rise to the task.” Hollande offered “financial and technical” support to a post-conflict Colombia.
- Asked in France whether former FARC members might be incorporated into the rural police force he proposed a day earlier, President Santos says “It hasn’t occurred to me, but I don’t discard the idea, something like this could be negotiated with the counterpart.” Internal Affairs Chief (Procurador) Alejandro Ordóñez, a frequent critic of the talks, accuses the government of negotiating the security forces’ structure with the FARC, something President Santos has promised he would not do. On January 27 the President calls Ordóñez’s statement “ill-intentioned”: “It is really perverse to conclude that, for saying that I haven’t thought of demobilized people’s entry into the police, but that I don’t discard the idea, that means that I’m negotiating the security forces in Havana.… I said, ‘I haven’t thought about it, but I don’t discard it.’ And why don’t I discard it? Because I have thought that, for example, they could be forest rangers.”
- Colombia’s government trades sharp words with that of Venezuela, one of two “accompanying” countries of the peace process, about Venezuela’s continued detention of opposition leader Leopoldo López. “We hope that Leopoldo López recovers his liberty as soon as possible,” reads a Colombian Foreign Ministry statement. Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry replied, “This represents a dangerous step backward for bilateral relations.” Tensions appear to ease after Presidents Santos and Maduro meet on January 28 at the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
- Colombia’s Comptroller-General’s Office (Contraloría) estimates that reintegrating former FARC members could cost between 1.8 trillion to 2.7 trillion Colombian pesos (US$800 million – US$1.2 billion).
January 25, 2015
- Responding to a reporter’s question while on a visit to France, President Santos says that post-conflict Colombia might need a mobile rural police. “Thinking about the post-conflict, the French Gendarmerie is a model that could be very important for us, and we hope that you offer us collaboration in this field.”
- Interviewed by Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper, U.S. Ambassador Kevin Whitaker says, “We fully support the Colombian government in its efforts to arrive at a negotiated peace. This is the best chance in 50 years to achieve peace.” Whitaker says he is optimistic that an accord will be reached, after which “it is very possible that [Colombia] will be another country.” Asked about the FARC’s insistence on the U.S. government freeing guerrilla leaders in U.S. prisons, especially “Simon Trinidad,” Whitaker responds, “First, it’s important to remember that our judicial branch is independent. Second, a person who has been sentenced is in a very different position, and third, we fully support the Colombian government in its efforts to arrive at a negotiated peace, and we don’t want to be an obstacle, we want to help.”
January 23, 2015
- The Colombian armed forces’ Inspector-General issues a report on the “Andromeda” scandal, the February 2014 revelations that a military intelligence operation, posing as a Bogotá internet cafe, was spying on civilians including members of the government negotiating team in Havana. As a result, the armed forces fire five intelligence officers and non-commissioned officers, nineteen soldiers, and a civilian.
January 20, 2015
- A month after the start of the FARC’s “unilateral, indefinite” cease-fire, the guerrillas have not violated it, according to reports from Colombia’s Human Rights Ombudsman (Defensoría) and the think-tanks CERAC and Peace and Reconciliation Foundation.
- FARC negotiators issue another communiqué criticizing the offensive military actions against the group during the truce period, which they say “go against the national mood and contradict the supposed positive valuation that President Santos has expressed about the unilateral cease-fire.”
- Colombia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office (Fiscalía) launches a criminal investigation of Óscar Iván Zuluaga, President Santos’s chief opponent during the 2014 presidential election campaign. Zuluaga, a critic of the FARC peace process, faces suspicions of working with computer hacker Andrés Sepúlveda to intercept government negotiators’ private communications.
January 19, 2015
- Colombia’s prosecutor-general (fiscal), Eduardo Montealegre, says that according to his legal analysis, a public referendum is not necessary to give legal force to an eventual peace accord. Chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle responds that while a referendum may “technically” not be necessary, President Santos wants the Colombian people to have a say.
- De la Calle issues a statement providing an overview of the January 15–18 Havana meetings between leaders of the government and FARC negotiating teams, which he characterizes as “planning meetings, not negotiation meetings.” He adds, “We have never come this far. The information for Colombians is, thus, of moderate optimism.” He warns, though, that de-escalating the conflict “will require of the FARC more actions oriented toward toward the authentic end of the conflict.”
January 18, 2015
- After three days of meetings between negotiating teams’ leaders in Havana, the Colombian government and the FARC agree to postpone the start of the 32nd round of talks From January 26 to February 2.
January 16, 2015
- The Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination, an umbrella organization of 260 non-governmental Colombian human rights groups, issues a statement welcoming the FARC’s announcement of a unilateral cease-fire, the ELN’s stated willingness to consider ending its use of arms, and President Santos’s instruction to negotiate a bilateral cease-fire with the FARC.
January 15, 2015
- We’re going to need the armed forces more than ever in the years to come, not just to guarantee peace but to fill spaces where other armed groups may be,“ says Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon, adding, ”It is necessary to gather around President Santos in these peace efforts."
- “We are ready to help,” tweets the secretary-general of the Union of South American States (UNASUR), Former Colombian President Ernesto Samper.
January 14, 2015
- “The unilateral and indefinite cease-fire declared by the FARC has been a step in the right direction, and so far—we have to say it—they have complied,” President Santos says in a televised address. “I have given instructions to the negotiators that they start, as soon as possible, the discussion on the point of the bilateral and definitive cease-fire and cessation of hostilities.” This statement formally reverses the government’s insistence, since the talks’ launch in 2012, on negotiating without a cease-fire in place.
- “We are ready for the bilateral cease-fire,” responds a statement from FARC negotiators.
- Gen. Óscar Naranjo, a government negotiator, former National Police chief, and current minister counselor for Post-Conflict, Human Rights, and Security, explains that the government expects a cease-fire to involve de-mining, an end to child recruitment, and the search for disappeared people. “A decision to suspend aerial bombings has not yet been made,” he adds.
- The FARC issues a press release listing alleged offensive military actions in Antioquia and Meta departments, warning that such actions “could provoke the end of the unilateral cease-fire and strain the atmosphere of trust that should surround the table of conversations.”
January 13, 2015
- The Broad Front for Peace, a non-governmental group upon whom the FARC called to verify its unilateral cease-fire, issues a statement calling on the government to cease offensive attacks, calling FARC reports of recent military actions “very concerning.”
January 12, 2015
- Maximum FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez publishes a statement denying that the guerrilla group is militarily weak and cautioning that a final accord remains far off.
January 11, 2015
- The FARC issues a press release listing offensive military actions in Guaviare and Cauca departments, warning that if such actions continue the guerrillas will rethink their unilateral cease-fire.
- Government and FARC negotiators announce that a 32nd round of talks will begin in Havana on Monday, January 26.
- In his annual address to the Vatican diplomatic corps, Pope Francis salutes “the efforts carried out to achieve a stable peace in Colombia.”
January 9, 2015
- The FARC issues a press release listing offensive military actions in Huila and Caquetá departments, warning that such actions “place at risk” the guerrillas’ declared unilateral cease-fire.
January 7, 2015
- On the 50th anniversary of its first battle, the ELN releases a series of statements reflecting conclusions from a conference of the guerrilla group’s top leadership. While the guerrillas explicitly state their willingness to abandon arms at some point, their statements do not indicate that formal talks with the Colombian government are any closer to beginning. Conflict analysts like León Valencia, a former ELN leader, note that the main advance is that for the first time “Pablito,” head of the group’s most powerful faction (the Domingo Laín Front, in Arauca), has clearly joined the leadership’s consensus in favor of negotiating.
January 6, 2015
- The FARC issues a press release listing offensive military actions in Chocó and Antioquia departments, warning that if such actions continue the guerrillas will rethink their unilateral cease-fire.
- In a series of tweets, Former President Álvaro Uribe cites attacks and extortions allegedly carried out by FARC guerrillas during the group’s unilateral truce.*
- Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami, one of the international advisors with whom President Santos met during the first weekend of the year, tells a Colombian radio interviewer that a possible first step for conflict de-escalation might be a halt to the Colombian military’s aerial bombings. Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón denies that Colombia is considering a halt to aerial bombings, saying that Ben Ami “is a great advisor at the worldwide level, but he is not an authority in Colombia, as simple as that.”
January 5, 2015
- President Santos hints that the government and guerrillas may be approaching a tacit cease fire as fighting de-escalates:
“[W]e have taken very much into consideration the unilateral and indefinite cease-fire that the FARC declared. And on this point we must recognize that the FARC have complied. We want to invite the ELN to join the initiative of a unilateral cease-fire, as the FARC did.… Until now, we have followed that maxim made famous by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, where he said that we must negotiate as though the war or conflict didn’t exist, and we had to maintain the military offensive as though the peace process didn’t exist. But the advances in the negotiations indicate to us that there are other circumstances now, and that this disconnect is no longer applicable.”
- The next day, however, President Santos tweets, “Instructions to the Armed Forces have not changed. Bilateral cease-fire will be discussed when the appropriate moment arrives.”
- “We wish to invite the ELN to join this initiative of a unilateral ceasefire like the FARC has done and invite them to reach an agreement as soon as possible on the agenda points we have been discussing for some time,” says President Santos.
January 4, 2015
- “The insurgency and the state will have to remove the use of arms from politics, and particularly the armed forces will have to go back to their constitutional role of defending borders, leaving behind the National Security Doctrine and the concept of an internal enemy,” top FARC Eastern Bloc leader Henry Castellanos, alias “Romaña,” tells an interviewer on the FARC negotiators’ website.
January 3, 2015
- President Santos holds a private series of meetings with the government negotiating team to take stock of the peace process. They are joined by a small group of foreign advisors: William Ury, a Harvard University negotiation expert; Joaquín Villalobos, a former leader of El Salvador’s FMLN guerrillas; Jonathan Powell, chief of staff to U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair during Northern Ireland negotiations; and Shlomo Ben Ami, a former Israeli foreign minister.