BOGOTA – The agreement ending more than five decades of war between the Colombian government and leftist FARC guerrillas will be signed on Sept. 26 in Cartagena, President Juan Manuel Santos said Friday.
He revealed the date in a speech to the final session of the national congress of chambers of commerce in Cartagena.
What Santos described as the “most important” announcement he has made in his life was greeted with enthusiastic applause from the business leaders gathered in the historic Caribbean port city.
The president highlighted that Sept. 26 is the feast day of Saint Peter Claver, a “great defender of human rights.”
Claver (1581-1654) was a Spanish Jesuit missionary who became known as “the apostle of the slaves” for his efforts on behalf of the Africans brought in chains to Cartagena during the colonial era.
“This peace process has the victims at the center of the solution of this conflict, that’s why we have chosen Cartagena on Monday, Sept. 26, for the signing of this transcendent accord,” Santos said.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has battled a succession of governments since the mid-1960s and at its peak had some 20,000 fighters under arms.
The day after the accord is signed will mark the start of a 180-day period (D-Day+180) for the FARC to lay down their weapons, which are to be turned in to a United Nations mission.
Different sections of the agreement have already been signed by the government’s chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, and his FARC counterpart Ivan Marquez, but it still must be inked by Santos and FARC chief Rodrigo Londoño, better known by the nom de guerre Timochenko.