HAVANA (AP) — Colombia’s main rebel group said Monday that it will halt its unilateral cease-fire this weekend, adding a dose of uncertainty even as peace talks to end the half-century-old conflict resumed in the Cuban capital.
The rebels’ chief negotiator, Ivan Marquez, said there was no chance his group would reconsider its decision to abandon its two-month-old cease-fire, which the government has steadfastly refused to reciprocate. Military operations are set to resume Sunday.
“The unilateral cease-fire … ends on January 20,” said Marquez. “That’s it.”
While the move was expected, it raises the prospects that slow-moving negotiations in Havana could be derailed — or at least shaken — by bloodshed back home. Both sides have issued statements in the past 24 hours calling on the other to move more quickly. Talks got underway Monday behind closed doors at a Havana convention center.
Marquez also outlined specific demands for agrarian reform, one of the main points of contention between the sides and the focus of the early rounds of talks. The rebels also said they were studying proposals made by Colombian citizens at a forum held in December in Bogota.
Humberto de la Calle, the government’s chief negotiator, said he too hoped the talks would gain traction. He said the government had “put forward concrete solutions to transform the countryside,” without giving any details.
De la Calle said the government was prepared to extend guarantees to the rebels that the agreements reached in Havana would be honored, but only once the FARC agrees to end the fighting.
“There can be no politics of war in Colombia,” he said. “We came to Havana to discuss guarantees to create a democratic atmosphere, and to invite the FARC to be part of that democracy.”
Talks began in October in Oslo, Norway and continued the following month in Havana. Norway and Cuba are acting as guarantors for the negotiations, with diplomats present at the table.
De la Calle said the talks will go on for 11 days, followed by a three-day break, before resuming again. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said the negotiations must bear fruit by November or he will walk away.
Several past efforts at peace have failed, though there is growing optimism both sides want to find common ground.
The rebels have seen their numbers dwindle in recent years due to an aggressive government military campaign, funded in part by the United States, though they insist they are still a potent force. The FARC has been fighting the Colombian government since the 1960s.
Associated Press writer Anne-Marie Garcia contributed to this report.
Paul Haven on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/paulhaven
More Related Stories
- Moore officials: Funds for "safe rooms" were held up by red tape
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Rescue crews race to find tornado survivors
- Looting in Oklahoma?
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Must-see morning clip: Barackalypse Now
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- Is Pope Francis an exorcist?
- Oklahoma death count confirmed at 24, 9 children
- Frantic parents search for children in tornado's wake
- Crews dig through rubble after deadly tornado
- 51 killed in massive Oklahoma tornado
- Don't cry climate-change wolf
- Record tornado devastates Oklahoma
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11