13 July 2015, News Wires – Colombia’s government is to de-escalate its attacks on FARC after the rebel group last week agreed to a ceasefire.
The Bogota regime and its principal domestic nemesis issued a joint statement on Sunday indicating that government troops would pull back from military action against the rebels from 20 July if FARC stuck to its promise of a unilateral ceasefire from that same date.
The agreement, albeit a tentative one, was reached at talks in the Cuban capital of Havana, where the two sides and a clutch of international players have been trying to broker a peace deal since 2012.
The Bogota administration and FARC also said they will try to speed up an agreement on a permanent bilateral ceasefire.
Last week FARC’s chief negotiator Ivan Marquez unveiled a one-month unilateral ceasefire to take effect from 20 July.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos wrote, in Spanish, on his Twitter account last week: “We appreciate the gesture of a unilateral ceasefire by the FARC, but more is needed, especially concrete commitments to speed up the negotiations.”
The rebel group and the government have been in on-off talks in Havana since 2012 to end fighting in one of South America’s top oil producers. The last unilateral ceasefire ground to a halt on 22 May.
Recently, rebels have stepped up attacks on oil infrastructure, with dozens of security personnel killed and Ecopetrol pipelines and other assets damaged.
In mid-June FARC rebels blew up a section of the Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline and set fire to infrastructure in Catatumbo, north-eastern Colombia. Seven people were injured and the military was called in to protect oil workers trying to repair infrastructure.
Ecopetrol said in mid-June that there had been a spike in attacks on oil infrastructure in the preceding two weeks that left 32 security workers dead and dozens more injured.
Some 16 of the 20 attacks on oil pipelines and other infrastructure recorded this year have occurred in a two-week period from 27 May.
Apart from pipelines, producing wells, transfer lines, production equipment, maintenance and transport equipment have also been attacked.
It said such “terrorist actions” had led to 14,000 barrels of oil being spilled, with rivers polluted and animal species threatened.
Ecopetrol said at the time that security forces had so far this year prevented 26 attacks, destroyed 4709 explosive devices and seized 13,559 kilos of explosives, with 32 security personnel killed and 102 injured.