After over 50 years of civil war, the Colombian government has finally reached a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
Nearly four years of negotiations that took place at the Havana Convention Center in Havana, Cuba have finally resulted in a deal between the two to bring peace to the war torn region. On Wednesday both parties officially signed the treaty.
The conflict was one of the longest in the world, lasting 52 years. Over 5 million people have been displaced by the ongoing conflict, and an estimated 220,000 lives have been lost in the guerilla warfare. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who was re-elected in 2014 with campaign promises of a peaceful resolution with the Marxist rebels appeared on television to announce the success of the negotiations.
Back in June, negotiators had reached a ceasefire agreement, and now the final details of a treaty that both sides believe will finally put an end to the guerilla warfare have been settled upon. Now, it will be up to the Colombian public whether or not to accept the terms of the agreement based on a referendum that will be held on October 2.
The political opposition, including the former president of Columbia, has spoken out against the peace agreement because it promises amnesty for many of the rebel soldiers, as well as giving them a role in representative politics with a place in Congress as they make the transition to forming an official political party.
According to the Washington Post, opinion polls have shown mixed results about whether or not the Colombian public will approve the terms of the agreement. If it passes, the FARC rebels will have 180 days to disarm their estimated 7,000 troops in designated camps and protected zones under the supervision of the United Nations.
Other Colombian rebel groups are still active in the country, and several details still have to be worked out so that the peace agreement can be enacted.
“Colombians: the decision is in your hands. Never before have our citizens had within their reach the key to their future,” President Santos said. “Today I can say — from the bottom of my heart — that I have fulfilled the mandate that you gave me.”