After Five Decades of War, Colombia Signs Peace Agreement With Rebels

By NICHOLAS CASEYSEPT. 26, 2016

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[President Juan Manuel Santos, front left, and Rodrigo Londoño, the top rebel commander, at a signing ceremony on Monday in Cartagena, Colombia. Credit Fernando Vergara/Associated Press]

 

In a Caribbean resort city, far from the jungles where guerrilla battles once raged, the Colombian government and the country’s largest rebel group signed a peace agreement on Monday evening.

The ceremony, held in Cartagena, brought an end to a 52-year-old war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, whose Marxist insurgency marked the last major war in the Americas.

“What we sign today is a declaration from the Colombian people before the world that we are tired or war,” President Juan Manuel Santos said in his prepared remarks, “that we don’t accept violence as the means of defending ideas.”

It was a moment perhaps reminiscent of the Good Friday Agreement that ended the conflict in Northern Ireland or the Oslo Accords that promised peace in the Middle East. And it was an image that generations of Colombians had yearned to see on their soil: A sitting president shaking the hands of the very rebel leader whom government forces had once hunted in the mountains, as the two sides pledged a future of peaceful politics.

“Let no one doubt that we will now pursue politics without weapons,” said Rodrigo Londoño, the top commander of the FARC, offering an apology to the war’s victims.

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