Bogotá, July 13, 2015 (SIG).
In view of the agreements reached this Sunday at the Dialogue Table regarding measures to expedite discussions in Havana and de-escalate the conflict in Colombia, the head of the Government delegation, Humberto de la Calle, and the High Commissioner for Peace, Sergio Jaramillo, answered questions from journalists about the meaning of these decisions.
De la Calle clarified the differences between implementing de-escalation measures and reaching the final and bilateral ceasefire. “The ceasefire should be studied and it is a part of the expediting process, but that is a later stage, with its own characteristics. The purpose of de-escalation is to reduce the intensity of the confrontation, create an environment of trust between the parties, and seek greater support from the Colombian people in the sense that peace is actually possible”.
Next, the Peace Commissioner explained the meaning of each one of these: “de-escalation is a series of steps and progressive gestures, according to the FARC’s behavior, to reduce the level of the confrontation in order for the people in the territories to feel that peace is getting closer and thus acclimate the end of the conflict. This is not a bilateral ceasefire”. Subsequently, he stated that “the final and bilateral ceasefire and end of the hostilities, as stated in the General Agreement, implies much more formality, clear rules, and a verification implying that it is final”.
"Thus, if the parties believe they are ready to enter the final ceasefire, then each one will make that decision when the time comes. But that is quite different from de-escalation. The Government is not willing to enter into a sort of premature and clumsy bilateral ceasefire which would take us to dire experiences from the past”, Sergio Jaramillo said.
Answering a question about deadlines to end the dialogues, Humberto de la Calle said: "we want to know, in four months, whether or not the really fundamental matters yet to be agreed are actually viable. This does not mean that the process is still irreversible. We are going to intensify the work to clarify the limits of both parties at the Table and the real possibilities of reaching an agreement (…) the President has said it thousands of times; patience runs out. We have to have decisions quickly; Colombian people must be told that they should not be afraid of peace; but to the FARC as well: you do not have to be afraid of peace".
Regarding the accompaniment of the technical sub-commission by a delegate of the Secretary General of the United Nations and a delegate from Uruguay (pro tempore President of Unasur) for monitoring and verification on the topic of the bilateral ceasefire, the Peace Commissioner explained that they were already contacted and that they will contribute in planning the verification system and its subsequent implementation, without prejudice to the eventual decision to invite other countries or international organizations to take part in this.
“I believe this is an important demonstration of what we have said, that we need to draw lessons from the past. One has to see the good things that have been done in Colombia as well as those that failed, and the truth is that in the eighties there was a ceasefire, a truce that failed, in part, because of its verification system which was very loose, comprised by some civil commissions with no decision capacity, with no teeth”, he pointed out.
Lastly, the Head of the Government delegation, Humberto de la Calle, said that under no circumstances will the Military Forces or the Police will stop their operations outright: “yesterday’s agreements clearly state that this does not mean a sort of billeting of the Army and the Police. Law enforcement authorities will continue acting throughout the national territory. The guarantee for the Colombian people is that the presence of the Military and Police Forces will remain active with territorial control operations across the entire country”.