Slow March to Peace

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Colombia’s government this week suspended a ceasefire agreement with a rebel group accused of killing Indigenous people in a recent attack, another setback for leftist President Gustavo Petro’s efforts to achieve peace with the country’s armed groups, Al Jazeera reported.

Officials announced they will resume attacks on the Estado Mayor Central (EMC) group, a splinter of the now-disbanded Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – once Colombia’s largest rebel group.

The decision came after Indigenous groups accused EMC fighters of killing minors who were trying to escape forced recruitment in the southern province of Putumayo.

Petro decried the killings as an “assault on peace” and “an unacceptable crime against humanity.”

The incident underscores the challenges Colombia still faces in ending a decades-long conflict between the government and armed rebels.

In 2016, the government reached a historic peace deal with FARC rebels, which led the group to disband and more than 14,000 fighters to demobilize. Even so, some groups – including former FARC commanders – refused to participate in the agreement.

Petro – Colombia’s first leftist leader – has distanced himself from the heavy-handed approaches that his predecessors took toward the rebels, and has implemented an agenda of “total peace” to end nearly six decades of conflict.

The government has engaged in negotiations with various armed groups, but these talks have yielded mixed results and some of them have stalled, according to analysts.

In March, a Red Cross report found that Colombian civilians still face displacement and violence from armed groups, even though fighting between government forces and rebels has subsided.

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