Negotiators from the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group made a historic announcement on the evening of Wednesday, August 24. After 54 months of exploratory and formal negotiations in Havana, Cuba, they have reached an agreement to end an armed conflict that began in 1964.
That conflict has killed over 220,000 Colombians, more than 80 percent of them non-combatants. The 7,000-member FARC, the largest leftist insurgency during that period, is responsible for roughly one-fifth to one-third of these killings. Colombia’s security forces and pro-government paramilitary groups were responsible for most of the rest.
The FARC carried out the majority of kidnappings, use of anti-personnel mines, attacks on population centers, and attacks on infrastructure, and a significant share of forced displacement, recruitment of minors, and sexual violence. It has supported itself financially through extortion and involvement in cocaine production.
Once this accord is implemented, for the first time in most Colombians’ lives, much of this activity will end, and Latin America’s third most-populous country will no longer face an armed group capable of generating violence on a national scale. Though regional challenges will persist, this peace accord is worthy of worldwide celebration.
The agreement revealed Wednesday is hundreds of pages long. It includes commitments on five substantive agenda points.
- Colombia’s government has committed to making substantive investments in the rural small-landowner economy.
- Reforms will ease the participation of political movements that have been excluded or even exterminated in the past.
- A new approach to illicit coca cultivation will be based on government incentives, with forced eradication a last resort.
- Colombia will launch a truth commission and a transitional justice arrangement that will grant alternative punishments to those who confess their involvement in war crimes.
- Through an agreed process, guerrillas will turn over weapons to a UN mission and begin their reintegration into society.
The Washington Office on Latin America advocacy group provided this report