domingo, 26 de junio de 2016

FARC, Colombia sign ceasefire deal hailed as step to final peace

Negotiators of the Colombian government and the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed an agreement on 23 June on a bilateral ceasefire and the FARC's programmed disarmament, in a deal hailed worldwide as a crucial step toward a definitive end to decades of civil war. The draft agreement was signed in Havana, where the two sides have been negotiating over peace since 2012, by President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón and the FARC's supreme leader, Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri (aka Timoleón Jiménez or Timochenko), as hundreds watched on a giant screen put up in central Bogotá, Agence France-Presse reported. It cited President Santos as suggesting that a final treaty could be signed by 20 July, after which the sides would begin implementing the deal. Its provisions included concentrating some 7,000 FARC guerrillas in 20-23 sub-districts for disarmament and demobilization, but also a commitment on the state's part to clamp down on criminal gangs the FARC insist are revived versions of right-wing paramilitary groups. Their targets are usually left-wing activists and politicians and human rights or environmental activists - and might plausibly include members of the FARC once they return to civilian life. Former president and current Senator Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who has opposed the peace talks, observed that the government was effectively allowing the "drug cartel" FARC to avoid punishment for its crimes and even turning them into semi-official (paraestatal) crime-fighters or vigilantes. Colombians were hoping the deal would bring peace and security, and boost the economy as promised, after more than 50 years of fighting that has fuelled land-grabbing, violence, gang crime and impunity, though many were for now cautious over its immediate benefits, Spain's El Mundo observed on 23 June.