Colombia: FARC ends unilateral ceasefire

Colombia's FARC rebels on Jan. 20 announced the immediate end of a two-month unilateral ceasefire and renewed their call for a bilateral truce to hold peace talks with the government "in a tranquil environment." The FARC had offered to extend the truce if the Colombian government signed a bilateral ceasefire, but President Juan Manuel Santos rejected that idea from the start. Speaking to press in Havana, the leader of the FARC's negotiating team, "Ivan Márquez," said that "with pain in our hearts we must admit that we return to the time of military warfare that nobody wants." Santos responded at a public event in Padilla, a village in southwestern Cauca department hard hit by fighting: "The armed forces, like our army, air force, navy and police, know exactly what to do come tomorrow."

Colombia: indigenous peace proposal advanced

An open letter from the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) and the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) Nov. 22 outlined an "Indigenous and Popular Peace Proposal" that they are demanding be taken up at the talks between the Colombian government and FARC rebels now underway in Havana. The proposal stresses issues not on the agenda at Havana, including the territorial autonomy and traditional authority of Colombia's indigenous peoples. Indigenous leaders will convene a meeting next month to advance the proposal and press demands for openinig the peace process to popular participation. The meeting will be held at the village of La María de Piendamó, Cauca department, which has been declared a "territory of peace and dialogue."

Colombia: no ceasefire during peace talks

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos rejected a proposal Sept. 6 by the FARC rebels for a bilateral ceasefire during talks set to begin in Norway next month, aimed at bringing an end to the country's long civil war. In an address at Tolemaida military base outside Bogotá, Santos pledged that the counter-insurgency campaign would continue across "every centimeter" of the country. "I have asked that military operations be intensified, that there will be no ceasefire of any kind," Santos said. "We won't cede anything at all until we reach the final agreement. That should be very clear."

Colombia: indigenous elder assassinated in Cauca

Lisandro Tenorio Troche, a traditional elder and healer of the Nasa indigenous people in Colombia's southwestern department of Cauca, was shot dead by two gunmen on a motorcycle Aug. 12 at vereda (hamlet) Pílamo in resguardo (indigenous reserve) López Adentro, Caloto municipality. Community leaders said they believe the assassins weref rom the FARC rebels, who had threatened Tenorio and his family in recent days. The Nasa communities have in recent weeks stepped up their campaign to demand that all armed actors—government troops, paramilitaries and guerillas alike—respect their constitutionally protected autonomy and refrain from operating on their lands.

Colombia: UN calls for dialogue with indigenous movement

The UN representative for indigenous rights, James Anaya, called on the Colombian government Aug. 9 to advance in dialogues with the indigenous movement in southwestern Cauca department that has been calling for the military to leave its territory. In a message commemorating the International Day of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Anaya highlighted "the rights of property and autonomy the indigenous peoples have over their own traditional territories," while stressing that the Colombian state needed to consult the indigenous movements before establishing military presence on their territories. Anaya emphasized that "the presence of the army should not contribute to putting the indigenous in danger."

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