FARC and Columbian Government Agree to Ceasefire

52 years is a long time. In 1964, for instance, the Toronto Maple Leafs had just won their second-to-last Stanley Cup Championship. On a much different note, the country of Colombia had just been plunged into a conflict that lasted until just a few short weeks ago. Peace talks have been happening since the fall of 2012, and have been making consistently slow progress throughout.

The conflict is between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Force of Colombia (FARC). The FARC sought to emulate the establishment of Cuba’s Marxist-style government during the Cuban revolution. Formed as a peasant, rebel army to repel the military, the ideals of the movement became muddied in the waters of organized crime as time went on. Eventually the FARC became a violent guerrilla movement, who have committed terrorist attacks, kidnapped government officials and made serious waves in the illegal drug trade.

In the early 2000s the violence escalated even further, and in 2006 Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s current President, became the Minister of Defense. From 2006 to 2009 Santos fought vehemently against the FARC, but last week in Havana, Cuba he shook hands with Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, the top FARC leader, also known as “Timochenko”. Timochenko told the leaders of many influential Latin and South American countries that he wished this to be the last day of the war.

Raúl Castro, the President of Cuba, has acted as the mediator in the peace talks since they began, and is adamant that there is no turning back on the path to peace. The signing ceremony was also attended by representatives from the United States and Norway, as well as Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. Secretary-General.

Critics of the agreement point out that the numerous splinter factions of the FARC as well as the National Liberation Army are not included in the peace treaty. Timochenko also discussed the future of the FARC, who wish to become a full fledged political party. Critics also point out that the FARC still refuse to lay down their weapons.

The United States have been instrumental in the counterinsurgency effort, and have put billions of dollars into the wallet of the Colombian government.

The 52 year long conflict has left over 220,000 dead and over 5 million people displaced from their homes. While restoring peace will not be an overnight process, I hope that some semblance of peace can be restored soon for the civilians and families of Colombia.

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