The Herald reports:
After 52 years of fighting and nearly four years of grinding negotiations, the Colombian Government and the country’s Farc rebel group declared today that they had reached an agreement to end the longest-running armed conflict in the Americas.
The two sides made the announcement in Cuba, where negotiations began in 2012 and where Fidel Castro launched a Communist revolution that once inspired guerrilla insurgencies across the hemisphere. Colombia, a nation of 50 million that is one of the closest US allies in Latin America, is the one place where the war has yet to end.
“This is the final chapter of the Cold War in the hemisphere,” said Bernard Aronson, the US envoy to the peace talks, in an interview before the announcement.
More than 220,000 Colombians have been killed in fighting over the past half-century, and nearly seven million have been driven from their homes.
But one major obstacle remains for the peace deal to stick.
Colombian voters must ratify the accord at the ballot box in a vote, likely to take place in October, that is shaping up as a showdown between the country’s two most prominent political rivals.
President Juan Manuel Santos, who has staked his legacy on the peace accord, will be campaigning for Colombians to approve it. His nemesis, former President Álvaro Uribe, is leading the drive to sink the deal. He and other critics say it is too favourable to Farc leaders, whose guerrilla war tactics included kidnapping, drug trafficking and murder.
Just like the peace agreement with the IRA required swallowing some dead rats, almost everyone would say Ireland is far better off for today for having done a peace deal. I hope the peace deal is approved for Colombia. 220,000 dead is around 0.5% of their total population.