Joint Ceasefire by Revolutionary Armed Forces and People’s National Liberation Army Announced

21 May

On the morning of May 16, Pablo Catatumbo, spokesman of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) Peace Delegation in Havana, Cuba, announced the third unilateral ceasefire, this time a joint ceasefire by FARC-EP and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the other guerrilla force in Colombia.

The ceasefire will start on May 20 and ends May 28. It is timed to coincide with the Colombian presidential election which takes place May 25.

Iván Márquez, head of the Peace Delegation, then read a message to indigenous people, and afro-Colombian, peasant, urban and peoples’ communities, as well as to the churches and social and political movements in Colombia.

The message is an emphatic call for unity, beyond any difficulties or disagreements that may have existed at any time or in any place. Unity is necessary to start the march on the road of radical transformations and to reach peace with social justice.

“It’s necessary to say that peace is a … right which is more important than anything else. If there’s no peace, there won’t be anything, not even a country. Uribe’s security is a deceit that only worsens chaos. Security for all Colombians can’t exist without peace,” reads the statement.

The insurgent forces stressed the need for a National Constituent Assembly, to give the floor to all sectors of society. It called for a united struggle, for example, in the case of the struggle for the Peasant Reserve Zones, which should be, they said, everybody’s struggle.

Likewise, the struggle for the ancestral territories of the indigenous people and the afro-Colombian communities is everybody’s struggle.

So too the struggle against transnational companies is everybody’s struggle.

All these struggles should converge in everybody’s conviction that a National Constituent Assembly is necessary to bring them about, the FARC pointed out.
The news of the ceasefire generated an immediate reaction in Colombia, Prensa Latina reports. Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro said that the ceasefire should be extended until the end of the peace talks in Havana and should be taken up by the government side as well.

Two of the spokespeople for the political and social movement Marcha Patriótica, Carlos Lozano and David Flórez, indicated that this was a postive development and also stressed the need for a bilateral and permanent cessation and for the military to respect the ceasefire declared by the FARC and ELN.

Joint Press Release by FARC-EP and ELN

The FARC-EP and the ELN have repeatedly stressed the need to convene a bilateral ceasefire, to channel the peace talks towards an effective and early reconciliation among Colombians.

The response has been the outright rejection by the regime, [which is] arguing that only the permanent offensive against the insurgency can guarantee peace in the country. “Peace is victory,” they repeat.

In contrast, and in order to promote more favorable conditions for the talks, we have declared unilateral ceasefires. Paradoxically, this generous gesture has led to the intensification of the offensive by the regime, putting our forces in unfavorable positions.

Today, with the forthcoming electoral contest for the Presidency of the Republic, there are many voices which, with a variety of arguments, ask us for a new declaration of ceasefire so that the electoral political climate will be characterized by the absence of obstacles.

The insurgency does not believe in the Colombian electoral system; we, like millions of compatriots, believe that corruption, clientelism, fraud and all kinds of dirty tricks lead to the illegitimacy of its results. Today’s scandals add more strength to our arguments.

However, we believe that such a strong national outcry should be addressed; we will see if the language and the orders of senior officials and members of the military and police leadership, [as a result of] our gesture, will change. We also do this as a beacon of hope for a bilateral cease-fire.

Therefore, we ordered all our units to cease any offensive military action against the state’s armed forces or the economic infrastructure, from Tuesday, May 20th at 00:00 am until Wednesday, May 28th at 24:00 pm.

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