Peace talks between Colombia’s government and the country’s largest rebel group FARC began in November 2012 with the aim of ending a conflict that has left some 220,000 dead. Thus far, agreements have been reached on land reform, guerilla’s political participation, and the illegal drugs trade. Until now, the conflict had seen significant de-escalation since the FARC’s unilateral cease-fire declaration in December 2014 and the unprecedented joint humanitarian demining agreement of March 2015. Developments since the Cauca attack last April suggest Colombia’s peace process is facing a potentially devastating setback: the army’s offensive on 21 May killed 26 rebels, prompting the FARC’s decision to suspend its ceasefire on 23 May and President Santos’s call for accelerated talks point to a peace process on the brink of collapse.
This backgrounder explores the larger military dimension of the peace process and how it remains a major sticking point towards reaching a final and sustainable peace agreement. The first section examines the challenges of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of such decentralised guerilla organization. The second section explores the military fundamental distrust of the peace process and possible explanations for their ongoing resistance to a final agreement.