Latin America

FARC and Colombia resume talks despite rising tensions over bombings

Rebels don't want to “throw away” progress made in nearly three years of negotiations

President Juan Manuel Santos announces the killing of a group of rebels.
President Juan Manuel Santos announces the killing of a group of rebels.Fernando Vergara / AP

Negotiators from the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) resumed peace talks on Monday in Havana after they were briefly suspended. The two sides have returned to negotiations in spite of rising tensions fueled by the killings of more than 40 rebels by Colombian military forces over the past week.

The insurgency has received a series of major blows over the past few days at the hands of the Colombian government, which restarted attacks on the FARC in April after rebels killed 10 soldiers while they were sheltering from the rain in a sports center in Cauca.

The incidents between the authorities and the FARC are leading Colombians to fear that a peace deal is unlikely

A bombing raid claimed the lives of 27 guerrillas on Thursday in Guapi, a jungle area in Cauca, in the southwest of the country. The attack prompted the FARC to suspend the five-month old unilateral and indefinite ceasefire it announced it would obey as a humanitarian gesture and to help deescalate the more than 50-year-old conflict.

Air raids during the weekend saw 10 rebel soldiers killed in Segovia, Antioquia department, one killed in San Vicente del Caguán, and four more killed in Chocó.

The FARC is also being blamed for the killing of a police officer after they reportedly threw a grenade at his patrol vehicle.

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The most recent incidents between the authorities and the FARC are leading many Colombians to fear that an eventual peace agreement is unlikely.

Military forces are on alert for other possible attacks, and in some communities – such as Cauca, where the first bombings took place – people have begun evacuating.

“There are risks that there will be an increase in the number of attacks on mining and energy infrastructure, and, to a lesser degree, small operations with the use of explosives,” said Jorge Restrepo, director of the Center of Resource for Conflict Analysis (CERAC), a private and independent research center that focuses on armed conflict.

Despite the confrontations and tension, FARC officials decided to return to the negotiating table in Havana.

“We cannot throw away all the efforts made in almost three years of negotiations,” the rebels said in a statement released in Havana.

In some communities, such as Cauca, where the first bombings took place, people have begun evacuating

Nevertheless, the FARC has stated that he bombings are “a step backward” in the negotiations.

“This is the wrong road and obviously peace won’t be reached if the conflict escalates.”

In March, President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the military to stop bombings of FARC camps as a goodwill gesture but he ordered the resumption of the aerial attacks after rebels killed 10 soldiers while they slept in Cauca. Nonetheless, the talks continued without a break.

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