FARC Agrees to Help Clear Colombia’s Minefields


EspañolAs the latest round of peace talks between the Colombian government and Marxist rebel group FARC closed in Havana on Friday, both sides agreed to begin demining works in two Colombian departments.

The Colombian government and FARC are to conclude details on demining operations from April 10 in Havana. (La Radio del Sur)

Former Vice President Humberto de La Calle reported in a statement that the guerrilla and the authorities are to begin eradication of anti-personnel mines in the Antioquía and Meta departments.

“The reality is that this agreement is going ahead and is just around the corner,” added De La Calle, the government’s chief representative at the negotiations in Cuba.

Iván Márquez, the head of FARC’s negotiating team, confirmed in a press conference that a deal on “humanitarian demining” was all but concluded.

Both delegations reached an agreement on March 7 to decommission mines and explosive artifacts laid down during Colombia’s 50-year confrontation between government forces, paramilitaries, and rebel groups. The latest cycle of talks, however, firmed up crucial details of the agreement.

The next series of negotiations are scheduled for April 10, with a conference in Havana set aside to advance the “implementation” of mine clearance operations.

According to official sources, Colombian territory contains the most mines in the world after Afghanistan, with over half of local municipalities estimated to contain minefields. Over 11,000 people have been killed or wounded by mines in Colombia since 1990.

The talks have progressed despite periodic clashes between the Colombian army and rebel units. On March 23, FARC fighters killed a young Colombian soldier, Jhon Edison Fonseca, in a bomb attack against an Army unit in the Guaviare department.

Also wounded were Corporal Javier Rincón Mora and Privates Bayardo Díaz and Diego Fernando Vaquero.

The guerrilla had previously warned that a unilateral ceasefire it declared in December in 2014 was “vanishing” due to “constant attacks by the Army” on its facilities.

Sources: Reuters, NTN24.

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