CARTAGENA, Colombia – Cartagena became Colombia’s “City of Peace” on Sunday, as several Latin American presidents and other dignitaries are arriving in the city to witness the historical peace deal signing on Monday, which will mark an end to the over 50-year long conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group.
The president of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, who will host the ceremony, said on Sunday that Cartagena, on the northern coast of Colombia, will be known as the “City of Peace” as well, because it is the place where the most important peace agreement in the history of the country will be signed.
The agreement will be signed Monday evening in the Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala Convention Center by Santos and FARC’s top leader, Rodrigo Londońo Echeverri, alias “Timoshenko.”
The two leaders had previously met twice throughout the nearly-four-year-long negotiation process held in Havana, and will meet for the third time on Monday.
To celebrate the peace signing, leaders from around the world have arrived in Cartagena, among others, Cuban President Raul Castro, whose country hosted the peace talks.
Cuba is also the guarantor of the negotiation process alongside Norway.
Dressed in a white guayabera shirt, Castro greeted reporters as he arrived at the airport without making any comments to the press, while the President of El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, said that Colombia, with the signing of the peace agreement, gives the world hope.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will also attend the peace signing ceremony.
Apart from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC top leader “Timochenko,” Ban will also deliver a speech at the ceremony, to begin at 8:00 a.m. local time (1300 GMT) and to be attended by some 2,500 guests.
The city of Cartagena is on high alert with the deployment of 2,700 members of the Armed Forces and Police and the access to the Convention Center has been restricted.