Scenes from the Colombian guerrillas’ last conference as an armed group
Sep 23rd 2016
BY NIGHT it was a music festival. Bands took to a massive stage, dappled with coloured light and shrouded in artificial fog, to belt out reggae and traditional Colombian cumbia for a crowd consisting mainly of fighters from the leftist FARC guerrilla army and its supporters. The concert’s location—a fairground in the grasslands of Colombia’s central Meta province—put foreign visitors in mind of Glastonbury or Woodstock, though the location was rather more remote. The nearest town was five hours away by car on unpaved roads. One rapt guerrilla said he had never been to a concert before.
By day, delegates to the FARC’s tenth conference deliberated on the fine points of an accord to end their 52-year-long war with Colombia’s government, the culmination of four years of negotiations that took place in Havana. They debated its provisions for setting up a special justice system to try leaders who have committed war crimes, and laid out plans for becoming an unarmed political party. At the end of seven days of debate and music, the FARC is expected on September 23rd to approve the deal and agree to hand in their weapons. Their leaders will travel to Cartagena, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, to sign the peace agreement alongside President Juan Manuel Santos on September 26th. Colombia’s citizens will have a chance to vote on the deal in a referendum to be held on October 2nd.
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