CARTAGENA, Colombia – The president of Colombia and left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels signed on Monday a historic peace agreement that formally brings an end to 52 years of armed conflict.
“The oldest and last remaining armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere has come to an end (...) Today we have a reason for hope: There is one less war on the planet. And that is the war in Colombia,” Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian head of state, said during the peace pact signing ceremony, attended by some 2,500 guests.
After nearly four years of negotiations, Santos signed the peace agreement with FARC’s top leader Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias “Timochenko,” and welcomed the FARC to democracy, adding that the agreement sets up mechanisms for the FARC to transform into a political party.
He furthered stressed that the agreement signed on Monday is more than the agreement between a government and guerrillas to end armed conflict, but it is a statement the Colombian people made to the world that they do not accept violence as a means to defend one’s ideas.
“We say it loud and clear, no more war,” Santos said through tears. “The horrible night of violence that has covered us with its shadow for more than half a century is over.”
FARC’s top leader “Timochenko” apologized on Monday “In the name of the FARC, I sincerely apologize to all the victims of the conflict for any pain we may have caused during this war,” after signing the peace agreement with the government.
“Let no one doubt that we are going into politics without weapons,” said Londoño, calling Santos “a courageous partner” and calling the accord “a victory for Colombian society and the international community.”
The guerrilla leader also noted that children are those who benefit most from the deal because they are the seed of future generations.
He also thanked the guarantor countries – Cuba and Norway – and the additional sponsors – Venezuela and Chile – for their support.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was among the 2,500 foreign dignitaries and guests who supported the process, said “Viva Colombia” at the end of his speech welcoming the peace accord.