Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Rodrigo Londono, also known as Timchenko, signed a peace agreement on Monday in the coastal city of Cartagena to put an end to what the Los Angeles Time called “Western Hemisphere’s longest war” — a half century of conflict in their country
Peace talks in Havana, Cuba have lasted four years. Finally, after many issues in the process of ending the civil war in Colombia that has lasted over 50 years, claimed over an estimated quarter million lives, and displaced millions, both parties have endorsed a mutual solution.
Both Santos and Londono shook hands for the first time on Colombian soil as they signed the accord with a pen made from a bullet casing. Santos presented Londono with a white dove pin, signifying the end to the longest conflict in Latin American history.
Among the guests in attendance at the ceremony were Cuban President Raul Castro, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon. Everyone was asked to wear white as a gesture of peace.
Santos made a statement through his tears saying, “The horrible night of violence that has covered us with its shadow for more than half a century is over. We open our hearts to a new dawn, to a brilliant sun full of possibilities that has appeared in the Colombian sky.”
In June, the two factions agreed on a ceasefire, and in late August, the final agreement was reached. It took another month before the peace accord was signed, and the next step will take place when the Colombian public votes on the controversial agreement on Sunday. Most opinion polls show that the agreement will be ratified.
Londono reportedly asked for forgiveness from FARC victims, adding, “No one should doubt that we will conduct politics without arms. We are all prepared to disarm in our minds and our hearts.”