Colombian President Petro has announced a suspension of the ceasefire with the FARC dissidents following the murder of four children. The FARC dissidents, a fractured group of the FARC who rejected the 2016 peace deal, reportedly forcibly recruited and later murdered four indigenous minors. As a result, Petro announced in a statement on Twitter that the bilateral ceasefire between the government and the leftist guerilla group, which also has heavy involvement with the cocaine trade in Colombia, would be suspended in four regions; Meta, Caqueta, Guaviare and Putumayo. The FARC dissidents have a strong presence in these four regions. Petro stated on Twitter; “If the bilateral ceasefire is not effective in certain territories to protect the life and integrity of the entire population, it makes no sense to persist in it.”
Upon election, Petro looked to end the war on drugs and seek peace with the guerrilla and cocaine trafficking groups involved in the conflict in Colombia. He was successfully able to begin negotiations and strike ceasefires like the now suspended deal with the FARC dissidents which was signed on December 31 2022. Yet, now this peace process seems to be faltering. In March of this year, a ceasefire, signed also on December 31, was suspended with Clan Del Golfo, the largest cocaine trafficking group in Colombia. Petro stated this was the result of continued violence from the Clan Del Golfo which breached the ceasefire agreements. A ceasefire with the ELN, a leftwing guerrilla group also involved in the cocaine trade, was announced by the government on December 31st with the announcement of Clan Del Golfo and the FARC dissidents. Yet, just days later the ELN stated they were not part of this bilateral ceasefire. Since then, violence has continued between the military and the ELN. For example, in March this year, the ELN killed 9 Colombian soldiers after attacking a military base with mortar shells. However, at the beginning of this month, the ELN did state it wants a ceasefire with the Colombian state.
Undoubtedly the path to ‘total peace’ which Petro desires was going to be messy. However, for critics of Petro, the collapse of the three most important ceasefires doesn’t bode well for the future of the peace process.