The government of Columbia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced on Wednesday that they have reached a final agreement that will effectively end a war that has been fought for more than half a century.
The war between the two groups broke out in 1964 and has since become one of the longest running conflicts in the world. Both parties were brought to the negotiating table back in 2012 after a 15 year military offensive by the government -backed by the United States- reduced the rebel groups numbers from a high of 17,000 to around 7,000 today.
The nearly 50 years of fighting between the government and FARC has claimed the lives of an estimated 220,000 people and displaced as many 5 million.
The FARC originated as a far left rebel group whose goal was to defend the country’s peasant population from a right wing conservative government. Recently, however, the group has been forced to turn to kidnapping and crime in order to sustain itself.
The agreement reached on Wednesday constitutes a bilateral ceasefire between the two groups and creates a process for the FARC to lay down their arms and demobilize. Colombia’s president has said that the deal will eventually be left to a public referendum, which a reported 60% of Colombians are expected to support.
The deal will be signed on Thursday, the 23rd of June, in Havana, Cuba. The presidents of Cuba, Venezuela and Chile, all of whom have been sponsoring the peace talks, will be attending the signing, alongside diplomats from the Obama administration and the U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, himeself.