Angelino Garzon (Photo: El Mercurio)

Colombia’s vice-president asked his government and rebel group FARC on Monday to come to an agreement on improving the humanitarian situation in the country while the two parties continue ongoing peace talks.

In an open letter, VP Angelino Garzon asked the peace talks to continue “through reflection and in agreement with the mandates of international humanitarian law.”

“I believe the time has come in Havana, Cuba [where talks are held] to sign an agreement … with which the FARC guerrillas as well as the government commit to reciprocally give greater credibility and perspective to the need for peace in Colombia.”

Concretely, Garzon asked the FARC to put a definitive end to kidnapping, release all hostages who may still be in captivity, stop laying landmines and contribute to demining efforts.

Additionally, the VP asked the guerrillas to stop the recruitment of minors and help child soldiers currently in their ranks to demobilize. Also, Garzon asked the FARC to refrain from carrying out attacks on civilian and economic targets. Finally, the VP asked the rebels to begin recognizing their victims.

Of the government Garzon asked to respect the physical integrity of demobilized and arrested guerrillas, prioritize investment in urban and rural areas where poverty and misery levels are highest, fight impunity and corruption, and insist in the reparation of victims of the almost 50-year-old conflict.

Additionally, the VP wants the government to strengthen dialogue with social organizations, promote human rights, international humanitarian law and the rights of women, increase demining efforts and promote a culture of reconciliation and the consolidation of peace.

“This is the great responsibility that the representatives of both the national government, as well as the FARC guerrillas and members of the ELN have with Colombia,” said Garzon.

The FARC and the government have been holding talks in Havana since November last year. At the beginning of talks, the rebels proposed a bilateral ceasefire which was rejected by the administration of Juan Manuel Santos.


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