O n the night of May 9, a member of the FARC rebel group attempted to rape two children aged three and nine at one of the transitional camps scattered around Colombia, where the guerrilla fighters agreed to settle after disarming. According to the UN Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, this was one of three severe violations of the ceasefire committed last month. Hindered by mutual distrust, the peaceful resolution to one of the world’s longest-running civil wars has entered a critical phase.
FARC was not the only party to trespass on the peace deal, according to the UN. On June 3, a Colombian army helicopter flew over a zone controlled by the guerrilla. “It is important to comply with the bilateral termination, no more provocations,” FARC’s leader Rodrigo Londoño, better known as ‘Timochenko’, replied on Twitter.
Timochenko also denounced the capture of three guerrilla fighters while carrying out tasks related to implementing the peace deal and called for an international oversight of the process. "I am considering ordering a delay to laying down weapons,” he warned.
On the other side, President Juan Manuel Santos has already postponed by 20 days the deadline for complete disarmament. “This is nothing, to finish 53 years of confrontation and fratricidal violence," he said.
63% of young people in Colombia disagree with the negotiated solution to the conflict, according to a poll by Colombia’s Ministry of the Interior, University of Los Andes and Latin American Barometre.
Since the beginning of the ceasefire last August, the Consultation Centre for Conflict Analysis has registered 18 violations of the agreed protocols. This has generated uncertainty around the process. "We have to meet the agreements, we have to build trust, because we need to gain it,” said Timoshenko, aware of FARC’s low standing among Colombians after decades of violence. An earlier version of the deal was rejected in a referendum for this reason.
Four months after the disarmament officially started, more than 6,000 guerrilla fighters have handed over their weapons to the UN and started reintegrating into society. "We will never again use violence," Timochenko promised.
Despite all the obstacles, there are many positive signs that the conflict is closer to a peaceful conclusion than ever before.