LatinNews Daily - 20 September 2023

COLOMBIA: Ceasefire agreed with EMC dissidents

On 19 September Colombia’s government and the Estado Mayor Central (EMC), the largest grouping of dissident units of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc) guerrilla group, announced that a bilateral ceasefire will come into force on 8 October.


The announcement revives a ceasefire that was declared at the start of the year but which collapsed after an EMC unit murdered four teenagers in Putumayo department in May. This time, the ceasefire will run for an initial period of ten months instead of six and will come into force on the same day that peace talks begin between the dissident alliance and the government. This may improve the chances of the two sides successfully reaching a peace agreement, but daunting challenges remain; the EMC’s units operate with a high degree of autonomy, and some regional commanders may be reluctant to abandon their control over profitable drug trafficking routes and coca production areas.

  • The 10-month ceasefire was announced following three days of exploratory talks between government and EMC delegations in Suárez municipality, in the southwestern department of Cauca. It will come into force on 8 October, the same day that a first round of peace talks will begin in Tibú municipality, in the northeastern department of Norte de Santander, and will initially run until 8 August 2024.
  • A joint statement expressed the government and the EMC’s “firm conviction to move towards the development of a peace agreement that ends the armed conflict and leads to an integral, stable and long-lasting peace, with social and environmental justice”.
  • From now until 8 October, both parties will prepare for the talks and develop protocols for the ceasefire. Offensive operations will then be halted on 8 October, when a plan for the peace talks will be presented. A ceasefire monitoring mission (MVMV) will then be established.
  • The EMC’s spokesman in the talks, Andrey Avendaño, said that as a gesture of goodwill it would release three soldiers that it is currently holding hostage. Avendaño also said that the EMC will not disrupt the 28 October regional and municipal elections, although he said that it would be alert to possible acts of corruption.
  • Colombia’s peace commissioner Danilo Rueda said that the ceasefire with the EMC represents “a substantial step towards the construction of a great, unprecedented and ambitious proposal for total peace”. He acknowledged “scepticism” regarding the government’s peace plan, emphasising the need for verification mechanisms to ensure that agreements signed on paper have a real impact on the ground.
  • Avendaño said that “all of the [EMC’s] commanders have given their seal of approval to this process since the beginning of exploratory talks”. He said that if agreements between the two sides are implemented properly, “no one will need to return to the armed struggle”.
  • Clashes between the EMC and the security forces have continued in recent days. The EMC was blamed by the police for an explosive attack on a police car in Mesetas municipality in the central department of Meta on 17 September. No one was injured in the attack. This followed an ambush which killed four soldiers in Cumbitara municipality, Nariño department, on 16 September, which the authorities also blamed on the EMC.

Looking Ahead: Unlike the ongoing peace talks with the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) guerrilla group, which rotate between Venezuela, Cuba and Mexico, negotiations with the EMC will all take place within Colombia’s borders. The leader of the government’s negotiating delegation, Camilo González Posso, said that this is aimed at allowing communities affected by the EMC to participate in the talks.

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