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Colombia: The Long Road to a Stable and Lasting Peace
Peace signing in Havana Ciba, a dream for Colombia. Photo: Granma
Three years and seven months after the peace talks began, the delegations of the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC-EP), announced in Havana a historic agreement on a definitive and bilateral ceasefire and laying down of arms.
Nicolas Maduro: Peace in Colombia, Peace in the region


In a joint statement issued in Havana, site of the talks, the two sides said they had also agreed on security guarantees and the fight against organized crime, responsible for killings and massacres.

The points agreed this Wednesday, June 22, are key aspects of the third point on the "Termination of the Conflict" agenda. Yet to be resolved are positions on the implementation, verification and countersignature of the Final Accord, and certain pending subtopics of other issues.

In January, the parties requested that the UN monitor the ceasefire as a source of conflict resolution.

"Tomorrow will be a great day! We are working for peace in Colombia, a dream that's beginning to become a reality," President Santos tweeted, with the hashtag #SiALaPaz (Yes to peace).

FARC-EP Commander, Timoleon Jimenez, also took to Twitter to write, "We came to the conversation table convinced of the need for peace, interpreting the desire of the majority, neither vanquished nor defeated."

The delegations have arrived at this point having treaded much of the path toward peace, during a process in which "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed", as the parties involved have expressed on previous occasions. The agreements reached on comprehensive agricultural development, political participation, tackling the illicit drugs trade, victim compensation, and justice attest to this.

HISTORY OF A CONFLICT

The current talks, which began November 19, 2012, in Havana, have advanced as never before in an effort to end a war which has displaced almost six million people and caused 222,000 deaths.

The Peace and Reconciliation Foundation has summarized previous attempts to put an end to the conflict, over five decades.

In 1982, then President Belisario Betancourt promoted an amnesty project to demobilize guerrillas in the country. Meetings held at this time led to a ceasefire agreement with the FARC, the principal insurgent group founded in 1964.

Among the most significant points included in these accords was the recognition of the FARC as a political entity, leading to the birth of the Union Patriotica, the guerrilla group's political arm.

Guerillas such as the M-19 (April 19 Movement) and the EPL (Popular Liberation Army), also negotiated ceasefires.

In 1984, the Uribe Accord was signed, between the Betancourt government and the FARC. Nevertheless, three years later, hopes of reconciliation were dashed by the government's failure to comply; the lack of respect for political rights; attacks; and the continued operations of paramilitary groups. The Union Patriotica was annihilated.

The opportunity to dialogue emerged again in 1991, during Cesar Gaviria's Presidency. The agenda established for talks in Tlaxcala, Mexico with the FARC, ELN (National Liberation Army), EPL and others - grouped in the Simon Bolivar Coordinating Committee - included 10 points. On this occasion, the Gaviria administration was able to come to agreement with the Revolutionary Workers' Party (PRT), and the armed indigenous group "Quintin Lame," but the FARC decided to continue the armed struggle.

These attempts were followed by years of efforts at rapprochement, but a comprehensive peace process was never established. Not until the Presidency of Andres Pastrana (1998-2002) was another round of talks with the FARC possible, known as the Caguan talks, begun in 1999.

With a "policy of peace for change," the government and guerrillas discussed issues such as human rights, political change, land reform, and paramilitary attacks, among others. This effort failed as well, given a lack of commitment on both sides, and no real plan. February 20, 2002, the process came to an end, and once again hopes for national reconciliation evaporated. / By Laura Becquer Paseiro – Granma.

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