A ceasefire has been agreed between the Colombian government and the Estado Mayor Central (EMC), the largest faction group of the FARC dissidents who rejected the 2016 peace deal. The ceasefire is set to be put in place on October 16, but all offensive operations between the two groups were suspended at midnight on October 8 starting the exploratory process before formal peace talks begin on the 16th. This is part of President Petro’s wider project of ‘Total Peace’ which looks to end the continual violence in Colombia.
The ceasefire was announced in Tibu, in the Norte de Santander province. Norte de Santander is a province on the border with Venezuela which holds key drug trafficking routes. Hence, there are a number of criminal groups present in the region including FARC dissidents, the ELN, and Clan Del Golfo. The announcement event saw a crowd of five thousand people in attendance, as delegates from the state and EMC-FARC set forth the ten-month ceasefire.
This new announcement comes after the suspension of a pre-existing ceasefire in May earlier this year. The suspension occurred after the murder of four indigenous civilians by the EMC-FARC who were forcibly recruited and then shot dead. As a result offensive operations returned against EMC-FARC in a number of Colombia’s departments. Petro’s project of total peace has taken a fairly slow start with the announcement and subsequent suspension of ceasefires also with the ELN, and Clan Del Golfo. Yet, peace talks continue with a range of criminal groups.
The EMC-FARC, Reuters reports, is said to have 3,500 members and operates in 23 out of Colombia’s 32 provinces. The group is heavily involved in the cocaine trade and holds significant military power. The group is in conflict not just with the Colombian state but also with a number of other criminal groups looking for territory and control of the cocaine trade, including the ELN.