FARC, Colombian government begin cease-fire

By Richard McColl

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) – A definitive bilateral cease-fire took effect in Colombia on Monday bringing an end to the 52-year-old conflict between the FARC and the government.

“The ceasefire has begun. The dawn of peace is upon us,” FARC’s lead negotiator Ivan Marquez said via Twitter.

The bilateral cease-fire and peace deal was reached last week after nearly four years of talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Havana.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Sunday that 480,000 men and women in active military service would no longer be in “offensive” operations against the FARC.

Rodrigo Londono Echeverri, alias Timochenko, the commander-in-chief of the FARC ordered his units – numbering almost 7,500 armed combatants concentrated in seven areas and an additional 8,000 militia members – to end all hostilities against the state.

“The war is over and we shall live together as brothers and sisters,” Timochenko said in his speech Sunday in Cuba.

The deal enables FARC members to mobilize forces and begin moving safely toward 22 zones of concentration and six camps where they will undergo a process of disarmament and await the results of an Oct. 2 nationwide referendum on the agreement.

At least 13 percent of registered voters, or approximately 4.5 million, need to vote in favor of the deal for it to pass.

A cross party coalition of politicians who favor the deal have begun campaigning in earnest to ensure that the population is fully aware of the conditions and intricacies of the agreement.

Former president and current senator, Alvaro Uribe Velez, is the most vocal opponent of the deal and has been campaigning against negotiations since October 2012.