BOGOTA – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC Commander Rodrigo Londońo Echeverri, better known as “Timochenko,” signed the revised peace agreement Thursday in Bogota, ending a 52-year-old internal armed conflict.
They signed the pact, which modified an earlier deal inked on Sept. 26 in Cartagena, at 11:30 am at Bogota’s Colon Theater.
Timochenko and Santos signed the agreement with pens made from bullet casings to symbolize Colombia’s transition from war to peace.
Afterward the nearly 800 people in attendance at the theater stood, applauded and chanted “Si se pudo, si se pudo” (Yes We Could. Yes We Could).
During the signing ceremony, Timochenko also congratulated Donald Trump on his victory in the Nov. 8 presidential election.
“I want to greet Donald Trump as (U.S. president-elect). We want his government to play a prominent role in bringing about global and continental peace,” said the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
Santos, meanwhile, hailed the Colombian people for pursuing peace after enduring the decades-old conflict’s high and painful cost, stressing that the document signed Thursday was the “definitive” agreement.
The pact, which incorporates changes sought by those who voted down the original agreement in an Oct. 2 referendum, will be subject to ratification by Congress, where Santos allies hold a majority.
Santos said the 180-day period for the FARC to demobilize and leave aside their weapons would begin once the agreement obtains congressional approval.
“I hope that, based on the established procedure, ratification (will occur) over the course of next week. That day will be ‘D-Day,’” the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize recipient said, adding that “in just 150 days all of the FARC’s weapons will be in the hands of the United Nations.”
The victorious “no” campaign in the referendum was led by Santos’ hard-line predecessor, Alvaro Uribe.
He slammed that initial accord as too lenient on the rebels and presented the government with hundreds of proposed changes after it was voted down in the plebiscite amid turnout of less than 37 percent.
Earlier this week, Uribe’s Democratic Center party also rejected the modified agreement, saying the changes were merely cosmetic.
Among other things, Uribe opposes allowing FARC commanders accused of war crimes to avoid hard prison time and run for public office if they confess and make reparations to victims.
The Democratic Center also wants a new referendum to be held, but Santos – who opted for the Oct. 2 plebiscite despite the FARC’s objections – has rejected that idea.
The FARC has battled a succession of Colombian governments since 1964.
Colombia’s civil war – involving the army, the FARC and other guerrilla groups as well as rightist paramilitaries – has claimed at least 220,000 lives and displaced millions of people.