FARC: Peace Not Possible Until Colombia Ends Paramilitarism

The FARC denounced that for now paramilitary activity is multiplying, which poses an enormous threat to ending 50 years of conflict in Colombia. FARC rebels and the Colombian government launched talks Thursday to discuss strategies to tackle paramilitary violence, which the FARC has repeatedly signaled is an urgent issue and the greatest threat to the ongoing peace process in Havana, Cuba, and a successful end to over five decades of internal armed conflict.

According to the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia, also known as the FARC, the two sides will have a “deep debate” focused on how to overcome the “scourge of paramilitaries.”

“Unfortunately, we have to note that while we begin this discussion, paramilitary activity is multiplying,” FARC peace negotiator Pablo Catatumbo said in a statement in Havana, adding that paramilitaries are the biggest threat to definitive peace.

“It is necessary to overcome the phenomenon of paramilitarism to achieve peace.”

Catatumbo argued that it would be unrealistic for the armed guerrilla group to commit to becoming a legal political movement without “certain guarantees” that the paramilitary forces involved in the armed conflict will also be dismantled, AFP reported.

Among potential new approaches, the FARC proposed implementing new laws that would punish “the promotion, organization, (and) official or private funding of paramilitary structures and practices” as a strategy to crack down on paramilitary activity.

Colombian human rights defender, Senator Ivan Cepeda, also stressed the urgency Thursday of working to eliminate paramilitary violence in Colombia to support the final stages of the peace process between the government and FARC rebels.

“An imperative task is to move towards the elimination of all forms of paramilitarism as a condition for peace and non-repetition,” Cepeda wrote on his Twitter account.

Iván Cepeda Castro ✔ @IvanCepedaCast
Tarea imperativa es avanzar hacia la eliminación de toda forma de paramilitarismo como condición para la paz y la no repetición.
20:10 - 21 ene 2016

“An imperative task is to move toward the elimination of all forms of paramilitarism as a condition for peace and non-repetition.”

Amid a resurgence of paramilitary activity last November, Cepeda told teleSUR that a key first step in overcoming the challenge of paramilitary violence is “acknowledging that paramilitarism exists in Colombia,” which he linked to what he calls “para-economics and para-politics.”

The FARC raised alarm over the resurgence of paramilitary activity in November, saying the phenomenon not only put the unilateral cease-fire launched by the rebel group last July at risk, but also threatened to undermine the historic progress the peace process had made.

The guerrilla movement has long argued that it will be impossible to bring a definitive end to the armed conflict without dealing head-on with ongoing paramilitary activity in the country.

Diálogos Paz FARC @FARC_EPaz
Con guerra sucia y paramilitarismo no alcanzaremos la paz
21:36 - 21 ene 2016

“With dirty war and paramilitarism we will not achieve peace.”
Discussion of paramilitarism in the peace talks come after FARC and government negotiators agreed earlier this week to ask the United Nations to monitor and verify the final bilateral cease-fire agreement when it is reached. The U.N. agreed to participate.

The agreement on the mechanism to verify the much-anticipated bilateral cease-fire has been seen as a major milestone bringing the two sides of the conflict one step closer to reaching a final peace deal by their expected deadline of March 2016.

The long-awaited peace agreement after more than three years of peace talks will bring an end to the internal conflict that has claimed some 220,000 lives and displaced more than 6 million people over more than 50 years. Source: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/FARC-Peace-Not-Possible-Until-Colombia-Ends-Paramilitarism-20160121-0035.html


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