Colombia’s Peace Talks
The Last Day of War?
Against all odds and defying four years of public skepticism, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has achieved what digital media viralized as “the last day of war”. Before five heads of state, international representatives and United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Colombia’s Government Negotiating Team and the FARC delegates signed a ceasefire agreement, which included demobilization and weapon surrender of 7,000 guerrillas and a similar number of militias.
Such an audience gathered in Havana, Cuba to witness what constitutes the core of the peace agreement that will soon put an end to a 50-year-old internal conflict that several prior governments tried to end, either by force or disappointing negotiations.
The longest-running insurgency in the Western Hemisphere, the FARC sought to emulate the Cuban revolution and install a Marxist-style government in Colombia, engaging in drug trafficking and kidnapping to finance their efforts.
As part of the agreement, the FARC will gradually abandon their weapons to a UN civil mission, a key issue to restore Colombian’s trust in the peace process.
The FARC will locate all their members in a limited number of rural areas under UN supervision to start their reintegration and/or judicial processes. Timetables for demobilization and for weapons decommissioning will open way to a cease-fire and start the final countdown for the signature of the final agreement, which is expected to take place by the end of July.
Still to be agreed are the political benefits that will enable the FARC’s transformation into a political party entitled to participate in the electoral process, and the mechanism to designate the judges for the transitional justice system. Even though this is a particularly sensitive issue, as their impartiality will be critical to the sustainability of the agreements, negotiations seem to have reached a point of no return.