The FARC rebels on Sunday asked the Colombian government to study the possibility of a bilateral cease-fire upon the ending of the unilateral truce that the guerrillas declared two months ago.
“With sadness in our hearts, we must admit that the phase of war that nobody in this country wants is returning,” Luciano Marin Arango alias “Ivan Marquez” the head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, negotiating team in the peace talks with the Bogota government told the press.
Marquez said upon his arrival at the Havana Conventions Palace, the seat of the peace dialogue, that he wanted to take the opportunity once more to ask the Colombian government to study the possibility of a bilateral cessation of hostilities to surround these peace talks with a calm environment.
The unilateral cease-fire declared by the rebels went into effect last Nov. 20, one day after the establishment in Cuba of the peace talks with a delegation dispatched by the government of Juan Manuel Santos.
“If the government feels that providing this propitious environment is not necessary, then we propose that we seek a treaty of regularization of the war paying attention to the specifics of the internal conflict to avoid greater suffering for the public,” the guerrilla chief said, adding that the FARC wants to ?attenuate the impact? of the conflict on the civil population.
As an example, he cited the possibility of the government not setting up more military bases or barracks in the middle of the population because, he said, “that amounts to establishing (human) shields (and) this situation is not permitted or tolerated by humanitarian international law.”
He also said that “if the moment arrives, we will be discussing (the situation) with the national government in a very timely manner.”
Marquez also read a communique in which the FARC emphasized the recognition made by Santos of the compliance on the part of (the FARC) with the unilateral cessation of its offensive operations for 60 days? and he called the military offensive against the rebel encampments foolish.
Santos said on Jan. 16 that he would submit to a popular referendum the agreement reached in Havana by the FARC and his government, but he said that under no conditions would there be a constitutional assembly. “Let them erase that possibility from their minds, because it’s not going to be like that,” said the president at the time.
The government delegation is headed by former Vice President Humberto de la Calle.