After more than a half-century of violent bloodshed, the Colombian FARC rebel group formally completed its disarmament process Tuesday, sealing a long-awaited peace deal with the Colombian government.
“Farewell to war. Farewell to arms, welcome to peace!” said FARC’s commander, Rodrigo Londoño, whose nom de guerre is Timochenko, in a ceremony held in the central town of Mesetas with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
The FARC, formed in 1964 as a Marxist-inspired peasant revolt, had been at war with the government for decades, using kidnappings, killings, and bombings as tactics while hiding out in the country’s mountains and jungles. As many as 220,000 people were killed and 5.7 million displaced in the 52-year conflict, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
“Today is a very special day, the day weapons became words,” said Santos who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016. “I can say from the bottom of my heart that to live this day, to achieve this day, has made worthwhile being president of Colombia.”
It’s been a bumpy road. Though the FARC announced a ceasefire in July 2015, Colombians narrowly rejected a peace deal in a referendum last October, opposing it by a mere 61,000 votes. In November, it was finally accepted by Congress.
The FARC may have been the oldest and largest insurgency group operating within Colombia, but the government still faces violence from other insurgencies and paramilitary groups.
On Sunday, three people were killed and 11 were wounded in a mall bombing in Bogota, perpetrated by a militant group, People’s Revolutionary Movement (MRP) in Bogota, according to CNN.