Colombia has agreed to suspend offensive actions against the main dissident faction of the former FARC guerrilla group, it was announced in the Security Council meeting held on October 9th, in compliance with the agreement reached with the insurgent group to establish a bilateral ceasefire in the coming week. The illegal armed organization is known as the Central Staff (EMC), the most significant among the various dissident groups of the former FARC operating in different regions of the country.
The group, led by Iván Mordisco, is currently in negotiations to define the protocols for the bilateral ceasefire and has recently been involved in various violent acts in the Cauca department.
Through Decree 1640 of 2023, the Minister of Defense, Iván Velásquez, orders the “suspension of offensive military operations and special police operations against the Central Staff of the FARC-EP, starting from 00:00 hours on October 10, 2023, until 24:00 hours on October 16, 2023.”
During this 7-day interval, it is expected that the parties will define the conditions for the ceasefire, scheduled to begin on October 16th, in readiness for the future dialogue table.
Prologue to the Peace Dialogue
This second peace process, following the one with the National Liberation Army (ELN), is part of the context of the Total Peace offered by the government to various illegal armed groups that meet the conditions set by the state to initiate talks.
The first steps toward peace with the EMC took place last weekend, on October 7th and 8th, in Tibú (Norte de Santander). An eventful session did not lead to the definitive installation of the dialogue table.
Regarding these incidents, the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace clarified that “there were no insults, death threats, or actions that endangered the life and integrity of the High Commissioner for Peace.” With this statement, the government representative addressed reports from some members about alleged tension at certain moments between the president’s representatives and local residents.
What is certain is that there were disagreements that forced the postponement of the bilateral ceasefire until October 16th, leading to the declaration of a cessation of offensive operations during this week.
Apparently, the necessary educational mission had not been carried out among the involved police forces, nor had the monitoring mechanisms for compliance with the ceasefire been agreed upon. Finally, a joint document was agreed upon to establish the premises for ensuring the success of the ceasefire.
“It will invite the United Nations Verification Mission, the Organization of American States Support Mission for the Peace Process (MAPP-OAS), the Colombian Episcopal Conference, and the World Council of Churches to participate. This team will perform the mentioned functions exclusively during the validity of this decree,” states the document signed by both parties.
The Most Dangerous Dissident Group
The EMC emerged as a dissident group from the Havana peace agreement signed in 2016 with the former FARC. Initially led by Gentil Duarte, who was killed in 2022, it is currently commanded by Iván Mordisco. The head of the peace delegation for this group is Andrey Avendaño, one of the trusted men of the organization’s leader, along with Danilo Alvizú.
The suspension of offensive activities aims to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue to establish a lasting ceasefire. However, the Ministry of Defense’s order clarifies that this new situation does not affect the “fulfillment of the constitutional and legal duty of the security forces to preserve the integrity of the national territory, ensure the constitutional and legal order, and secure the necessary conditions for the exercise of public rights and freedoms throughout the national territory.”