It’s over. Sunday marked the last official day of the 52-year-old armed conflict between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). People are starting to feel the impact of what Humberto de la Calle, the chief negotiator for the government in the peace process with the FARC, meant on Wednesday when he said: “The war is over.” On Sunday, rebel chief Rodrigo “Timochenko” Londoño confirmed the definitive ceasefire President Juan Manuel Santos had announced on Thursday. Lodoño issued a brief statement from Havana where the two sides have met for talks over the last four years.
According to the terms of the peace deal, they will surrender their weapons to the government and give up their combat uniforms
“In my capacity as commander of the FARC-EP, I order all our officers, our units, each and every one of our combatants to definitively cease fire and hostilities against the Colombian state,” the rebel leader said. “The rivalries and rancor must remain in the past. Today, more than ever, we regret so much death and pain brought about by the war,” Lodoño added. The rebel chief also asked Colombians to begin reconciliation. “The war is over. Let us live in peace with our brothers and sisters.”
The announcement brings an end to FARC’s mission after more than five decades of armed conflict, which led to 220,000 deaths and nearly eight million victims. Though the guerilla force began a self-imposed unilateral ceasefire in June 2015 – the Colombian state subsequently decided to respond in kind – neither party had made such a concrete commitment to bringing hostilities to a definite end. This self-declared ceasefire will continue until both sides sign the peace agreement at the end of September and FARC members begin to disarm under United Nations’ supervision.
Rebel soldiers will transition to civilian life over a 180-day period in 28 different areas. According to the terms of the peace deal, they will surrender their weapons to the government and give up their combat uniforms.
Rebel leaders will meet with soldiers to explain the terms of the peace deal, get their go-ahead and ratify the accord
Colombians have already felt the impact of that self-imposed ceasefire. In 2015, 146 people died as a result of the armed conflict but official records from June only reported three victims so far this year.
Timochenko has also called for a final FARC conference to be held in San Vicente del Canguán, the site of failed peace talks between rebels and the Andrés Pastrana administration. Rebels will meet from September 13 to 19. For the first time since 1965, the FARC will discuss peace at their conference instead of plans for kidnappings, extortion and attacks. Rebel leaders will meet with soldiers to explain the terms of the peace deal, get their go-ahead and ratify the accord that will put a definitive end to their armed revolt and provide the mechanisms for transition to civilian life and the beginning of their political movement.
This meeting will mark the end of the FARC as a guerilla group. Colombia will be writing a new page in its history.
English version by Dyane Jean François.