“Let this be the last day of the war.”
– FARC leader, Rodrigo Londono, this afternoon.
It’s not quite time for champagne yet but it is a huge step in the right direction. Just this afternoon, President Santos and Rodrigo Londono, leader of the guerrilla group, FARC, finalized a ceasefire agreement which for many, signifies the end of hostilities.
However, although a major step forward, this deal only sets the terms of the peace accord. It will be up to President Santos and the people of Colombia to decide whether or not peace actually happens. There are still some people opposed to the agreement, arguing that the inclusion of former oppressors into regular society without punishment is unacceptable. Santos had previously promised to hold a referendum on the topic but he has now passed that decision off to the courts to decide whether a referendum is best. Either way, President Santos previously noted that he expects the treaty to be signed into force as early as the end of July.
Once the accord is ratified, FARC combatants will have 180 days (six months) to effect a complete demobilization back to pre-established exclusion zones and camps. Within that same period, all weapons will need to be surrendered, a process which will be overseen by UN monitors, and both sides will need to adhere to a full ceasefire.
The government has agreed to establish housing and transition centers within the camps for almost all of the current 7000 FARC troops. These centers will provide ex-combatants retraining for inclusion back into regular society. President Santos has also agreed to a joint government/FARC security force for the protection of the FARC leadership team across the next few years as the current guerrilla force converts to an active political party.
“The children and youth of our country have never known a single day without the violence of the conflict. Neither have the adults.” – President Santos
President Santos has set his legacy on achieving peace in Colombia. If he is successful, it’ll mean the end of the Western hemisphere’s longest-running conflict, responsible for the deaths of over 200,000 people.
He said this afternoon, “We have reached the end of 50 years of death, attacks and pain. This is the end of the armed conflict with Farc.”