FARC Announces Ceasefire as Part of Peace Negotiations With Colombian Government

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has announced a unilateral ceasefire for the next two months, while it participates in peace talks with the Colombian government.

Ivan Marquez, negotiations coordinator of the FARC has said that the FARC leaders "considering the immense cries for peace from the different sectors of the Colombian people, have ordered to the guerrilla units located all around the national territory, the cease of all sorts of offensive military operations against the public force and the acts of sabotage against the public and private infrastructure."

According to the FARC, the unilateral ceasefire began on Nov. 20, and will end on Jan. 20 2013.

Reading a statement from his group, Marquez also said that the cease is "a decided contribution to strengthen the necessary climate of understanding" between the rebels and the Colombian government, so that they "reach the desired goal of all the people of Colombia."

However, the group remains to be critical of the privatization of state properties, and has told the Colombian government to stop law reforms that would, according to them, benefit transnational companies. Marquez has also said that cuts to social projects, as well as the privileged position given to financial companies in the country, are "fire and hostilities from the government."

President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, however, remains skeptical about any ceasefire from the FARC, saying that he doesn't want a temporal truce, but a definite end to the conflict.

On Nov. 15, in Spain Santos said, "There are some people who are proposing truces, cease of fires. My answer has been clear: 'There is no truce, no ceasefire.' They want to go ahead with the cease just to humanize the conflict, but what we want is to end it, not humanize it."

Humberto de la Calle, top peace negotiator from the Colombian government, also said that a bilateral ceasefire was not part of the government plans.

"The ceasefires in the past have given great benefits to the rebels, and that cannot be repeated," said de la Calle.

The European Union and the United States have labeled the FARC as a terrorist organization. The armed group has fought against the Colombian government since 1964 and in the last decades it has been involved in drug trafficking and kidnapping for ransom, although last February the FARC announced that it would no longer commit kidnappings for ransom.

Despite the the ceasefire declared by the FARC, many fear the violence in Colombia could continue, since the second largest guerrilla group in Colombia, the National Liberation Army (ELN), is still active and has not participated in the peace negotiations with the Colombian government.