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Carlos-Antonio-Lozada-33333.jpgRSS Carlos Antonio Lozada

Carlos Antonio Lozada is head of the Technical Subcommission of the FARC-EP and member of its national Secretariat.
Saturday, 31 October 2015 00:00

Bilateral ceasefire

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Written by Carlos Antonio Lozada, member of the FARC-EP Secretariat 

Given the barrage of news regarding the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire before signing the final agreement, we consider it necessary to make some clarifications, since we noted a number of inaccuracies, both in the statements made by President Santos and by the chief negotiator of the government, as well as in press releases, which are all contributing to confuse rather than bringing closer the possibility to achieve that necessary measure.

The first thing to remember is that since March, the Technical Subcommission, comprising senior officers of the Armed Forces and guerrilla commanders in charge of addressing the issue of a bilateral and definitive cease-fire and the abandonment of weapons, has been working uninterruptedly and carefully. 

During these seven months, the Subcommission has worked on the construction of the text of the agreement with its annexes and protocols, grouped into seven chapters that cover the following topics: Introduction, monitoring and verification, rules that govern the ceasefire , security, logistics, concentration of troops and abandonment of weapons. Topics that concern both parties alike, but which take different forms in each case and on which we have exchanged proposals, prepared joint drafts, and set methods for their discussion either during the plenary of the Subcommission or in work groups.

As is only logical, in the Subcommission as well as at the Conversation Table, a basic principle is bilateralism. This is why necessarily the construction of the texts and the decision-making involves consensus. We should not ever forget that this is a negotiation between equal parts and not a process of surrender.

It is necessary to note that the mandate of the Subcommission refers to the cease-fire that will take place when the final agreement is signed. This makes it different from any other form of ceasefire that may be eventually agreed between the parties before the final agreement. To put these two - clearly different - situations at the same level can only be due to ignorance on the subject or the clear intention of creating confusion among public opinion and put pressure on the other party, which is unacceptable.

During the three years of talks, the FARC has declared five unilateral ceasefires during electoral processes and two more as gestures of de-escalation, including the one currently in force and the unilateral indefinite ceasefire of December 21, 2015, which failed because of the systematic attacks by the security forces against the guerrillas in truce, killing more than 30 fighters, which led to an escalation of the war that threatened the continuation of the process.

Such ceasefires were clearly motivated by humanitarian reasons and have aimed at saving lives, and also political reasons, seeking to create an appropriate environment for the talks. This is why the recent proposal by President Santos to condition an eventual bilateral ceasefire to the agreement on one of the Agenda points, is incomprehensible.

Nor do we understand that it is intended to condition an eventual bilateral ceasefire to an alleged concentration of the guerrillas, which is an issue that, if we carefully analyze the chapters of the agreement being build in the Technical Subcommission, does not appear anywhere.

Much less do we understand why they want to impose unilaterally a monitoring and verification mechanism. Like everyone in the country knows, in the agreement entitled ?Expedite in Havana and De-escalate in Colombia?, the parties agreed to invite a representative of the Secretary General of the UN and one of the Pro Tempore Presidency of UNASUR, to accompany the deliberations of the Technical Subcommission on the issue of monitoring and verification, for which Mr. Jean Arnault and Jose Bayardi were appointed respectively. The Subcommission has met twice with them, but never defined which agencies or entities may be part of an eventual monitoring and verification mechanism; something that must be defined by the parties at the Conversation Table.

Therefore, we don?t see why we should talk about requesting a mandate from the Security Council of the UN for the establishment of the mechanism for monitoring and verification of an eventual ceasefire, as noted by President Santos, in a new attempt to impose unilateral decisions which violate the guiding principle of bilateralism.

Finally, if there is real political will from the government to reach a bilateral ceasefire before signing a final agreement, it is not necessary to concentrate the guerrillas in barns; all it would take is President Santos - in his capacity as Commander of the Armed Forces - to order his troops to suspend the operations conducted in the areas against the guerrillas in truce; because as it is recognized throughout the country, including by the delegation of Congress with whom we met yesterday, the FARC-EP is fulfilling its commitment to its unilateral cease-fire hundred percent.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 15 March 2016 02:18