Latin America & Caribbean

Colombian Farc rebels push ahead with peace talks

Pablo Catatumbo arrives at the Convention Palace in Havana for peace talks with the Colombian government on 21 May, 2015. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pablo Catatumbo said the bombing raids were a "step back"

Negotiators for Colombia's Farc left-wing rebel group say they want to push ahead with peace talks.

The announcement came just days after dozens of Farc rebels were killed in an air force bombing raid in south-western Cauca province.

The Farc said the bombing was a "step back" but insisted that the progress made so far at the talks should not be "thrown overboard".

The talks aim to put an end to more than five decades of armed conflict.

The rebel negotiator known as Pablo Catatumbo insisted that "if we continue on this path [of negotiations], an alternative to war is possible".

He was speaking in the Cuban capital, Havana, where the peace talks have been held since they were officially launched in November 2012.

Escalating violence

At least 26 guerrilla fighters died in the bombing raid in Guapi, in Cauca province on Thursday.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The killing of 11 soldiers in a rebel ambush prompted the president to resume air raids

Another eight were killed in a fresh raid in north-western Antioquia province at the weekend.

When the two sides began to negotiate in November 2012 they did so without declaring a ceasefire.

But in December 2014, the Farc called a unilateral ceasefire as a sign of its faith in the peace process and to increase the pressure on the government to reciprocate and suspend attacks on rebel fighters.

President Juan Manuel Santos ruled out a bilateral ceasefire but did order a halt to bombing raids.

However, he ordered they be resumed after 11 soldiers were killed in a Farc ambush on 15 April.

The two sides have so far reached agreement on three topics on their five-point agenda.

An estimated 220,000 people have died in a half century of armed conflict in Colombia.


The peace process

November 2012 - Formal peace talks begin in the Cuban capital Havana between the Colombian government and the Farc.

May 2013 - A deal is reached on land reform, one of the most contentious issues. It calls for fair access to land, and rural development, two key causes of the conflict.

November 2013 - The two sides agree on the political participation of the Farc should a peace deal be reached.

May 2014 - Both parties pledge to eliminate all illicit drug production in Colombia.

December 2014 - Farc declares a unilateral ceasefire.

March 2015 - Both sides agree to work together to remove landmines. Colombia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

April 2015 Government resumes air strikes after the Farc kills 11 soldiers in ambush.

May 2015 Farc suspends its unilateral ceasefire after government military operation kills 26 rebel fighters.

What is at stake in Colombia's peace process?

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