Alex Corvadt – Political Correspondent
The Colombian government’s 54 year civil-war with the rebel group known as FARC has come to an end. On Monday night at midnight, government forces and rebel groups brought a cease-fire into effect, the first step in a peace-process that is hoped to be a permanent one.
The war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has left more than a quarter of a million people dead, almost 50,000 missing, and up to 7 million people displaced from their homes.
The challenge now is for the government to ensure a “yes” vote during a plebiscite on whether to end the war. The vote will be held on October 2nd and is widely expected to go through as people are sick of the blood-shed.
If peace-plans go through, they will mean the end of the world’s longest civil-war.
This August 29 a new chapter begins for Colombia. We are putting down our weapons. We’ve ended the war with FARC” – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Twitter
The Colombian Civil War facts:
- Total Casualties: 218,094
- Total Civilians killed: 177,307
- People Abducted: 27,023
- Disappeared persons linked to the conflict: 25,007
- Victims of anti-personnel mines: 10,189
- Total displaced people: Estimated at 4.7 to 6 million people
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The most important date coming up will be the referendum being held on the peace deal. If public support does not agree with the armistice then by law, the country will return to a de-facto state of war. This would undo decades of work to end the conflict though remains unlikely.
The ceasefire will now be followed by a six-month de-mobilisation process. President Santos remains optimistic that all the fighters will lay down their arms, however has warned that any who do not after the amnesty ends will be pursued.
FARC’s estimated 7,500 fighters will now be able to head to UN supervised weapon-collection points. They will also be allowed to return to civilian life with no consequences unless they are found to have committed war-crimes.
Speaking to Aljazeera, Security expert Carlos Alfonso Velazquez said that the deal “is really one more seal on the end of the conflict. It is the test of fire”.
Before the final de-mobilisation, FARC leaders will convene with their troops one last time to discuss the next chapter for the movement. They have now set their sights on legitimizing into “a legal political movement”, with the hopes of pursuing their goals through peaceful means in congress.
Pillars of peace
The agreement is made of five core pillars:
- Political participation
- Former FARC members will be free to participate in politics and offered structural support, including financing for their movement.
- Agrarian development
- Former members of the group will have their land holdings legitimized by the government. It will also allow them to trade their goods without restrictions again to encourage non-drug related crops.
- Illicit economy
- Financial assistance to farmers for legal crops. This will discourage them from growing drugs. The government will also begin clamping down on corruption and drug trafficking.
- Demobilization and reintegration
- FARC fighters will hand in their weapons to centres supervised by the United Nations. Leaders will be tried and punished if found guilty of war crimes. Rank and file soldiers will not be punished.
- Transitional justice and amnesty
- Peace tribunals and investigations of crimes. Amnesty granted for those who committed “political crimes” such as rank and file troops, however no amnesty for those found guilty of war crimes.
- Reparations for the victims
- Government support and financial assistance for people effected by the conflict on all sides.
Whilst the war has ended with FARC, Colombia is still fighting with the smaller rebel group known as the National Liberation Army.
After decades of war, it remains to be seen if peace has come at last.
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