COLOMBIA, A TURNING POINT

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Fifty years of civil war, 4 of negotiations, then peace. In the diversified scenario of Latin America, the thaw happening in Cuba is not the only one. Colombia become home to a historic agreement too: the government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia will sign the agreement, which will end half a century of bloodsheds. Three months ago, in the areas that had been marred by conflict the most, militants laid down their arms. The cease-fire entered into force on June 22, 2016, thanks to Cuba’s mediation and to the role played by the Holy See, which has been always careful, during Pope Francis’ ministry, to political events in South America.

Civil war caused heartbreaking numbers of victims: 260 thousand people died, 45 thousand disappeared, and there are 2.6 million displaced persons. It’s a slap, a deep wound from which Colombia will struggle to recover. Historically, everything had begun in 1964, when Manuel Marulanda, to avenge the military repression of a peasant uprising in Marquetalia region, decided to found the FARC, armed militias of Marxist formation, whose goal was creating an independent state inside the country. After three decades of struggle, in 1998, President Andrés Pastrana granted an independent territory on the country’s territory to the guerrillas, in the Caguan region. In exchange, he obtained the rebels’ participation in the disarmament negotiations. The FARC grew stronger, reaching 28 thousand soldiers, including young people who have not come of age yet.

In 2012, in Havana, began the negotiations for peace, which led, on June 22 to an agreement to the truce. The next step is the signing of an agreement that signs the permanent end of the hostilities. After several postponements, we have finally reached this point. “Our country is living a historic sea change; there is only one step left – told Agensir Mons. Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga, Archbishop of Tunja and president of the Colombian bishops – Colombia has suffered 52 years of war and we are now very close to peace. Actually, we are close to the end of the war. This is a moment of great joy and grace”.

There will be many personalities in Cartagena de las Indias, where the agreement will be signed. Besides a number of Latin American heads of state, there will be the High EU Representative Federica Mogherini, the Secretaries of State of the Vatican and the United States, Pietro Parolin and John Kerry, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. Certainly, there will be also Raul Castro, since the long and complex negotiations took place in Havana.

The local press has written that Cartagena, not Bogota, has been chosen as the site of the historic agreement because of the 85-year-old Cuban president, since the Colombian capital is 2,600 meters above the sea level. These days, the FARC has been in the spotlight. In the heart of the forest, among the Yari savannas, in the southeast of the country, took place the tenth “Conference” of the group. The area has been a mix between politics and show for days. There were around 500 armed and silent guerrillas, which clearly indicates that at least for a few days the FARC are going to be a rebel, but obedient organization. Ready to sign the peace agreement.

The “guerrillerada” (as many media call the rebels) arrived on the scene in trucks and boats, which have moved up the rivers, but also in a helicopter, the means used for example by Rodrigo Londono. Ex Pc and former medical student in Moscow, Londono, better known as “Timochenko”, is the latest of the many FARC leaders, who began the fight in the early 60’s and are therefore the oldest guerrilla in the whole Latin America.

These days, in the FARC camp, there have not only been many debates and discussions, but also a lot of music: weapons, giant screens, and a festive atmosphere. On Saturday night, for instance, has played the reggae band “Alerta Kamarada”. Yet, there is the future at stake. On the political front, we have talked about two fundamental issues: the agreement and the political and organizational measures of the transition to a political movement. In fact, the road map of the abandonment of the arms and the peace process. In fact, the FARC will become a party: “We have not decided on a name, we are listening to the very attractive proposals made by some of our fighters,” said the spokesman for the group, Ivan Marquez. Almost everything seems to be ready to turn the page: a few days after the historic signing (October 2), a referendum s planned, with which Colombians will have to approve or reject the agreement. And if YES were to win, as the surveys suggest, after a 52-year-old night, Colombia will finally see the dawn of a new era.

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