August 29, 2016
The war in Colombia is officially over. At zero hours this morning, a definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities went into effect, officially ending Colombia’s fifty-two year old internal armed conflict with the FARC. President Juan Manuel Santos presented the final peace accord that negotiators had finalized in Havana last Wed., August 24, to Mauricio Lizcano and Manuel Ángel Pinto (presidents of the Senate and House, respectively). As required by law, he announced his intent to hold a plebiscite on October 2, the symbolic date on which Gandhi was born, so that the Colombian people could have “the final word on peace in Colombia,” and he outlined the reasons for holding a plebiscite. Although this may be the first time a peace accord is put to a public vote, a rather risky endeavor, President Santos has long argued that public endorsement would give the accords greater legitimacy and would give the Colombian people the final word. He said, “Peace is always better than war. Peace will remove the fear with which all Colombians have grown up…it will allow the displaced to return to their zones to have a dignified life. Peace will open opportunities the the majority of Colombians have never seen or had,” he said.
Accompanied by a crowd of victims, peace organizations, politicians, Afro-Colombians, indigenous, women and others on the short walk from the Casa de Nariño to the Capitol building on the Plaza de Armas, President Santos announced that, “as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces,” he had “ordered the definitive ceasefire with the FARC to begin at 00:00 hours on next Monday August 29.” (Read the President’s statement here.)
Yesterday, FARC commander-in-chief Timoleón Jiménez (aka “Timochenko”) noted that the FARC-EP received the news of the President’s order with great emotion. Timochenko issued a parallel order to FARC troops and combatants, noting the FARC’s “clear and definite vocation for reconciliation,” and announcing the war’s end. “Let us live together as brothers and sisters,” he said. (Read Timochenko’s statement here).
Watch here the video of the announcement from Havana on August 24, 2016:
Read my analysis of events as they were unfolding in articles that appeared last week on the Olive Branch, published by the United States Institute of Peace; and the International Peace Institute’s Global Observatory.