24 June 2016 Current Affairs: The Colombian government and the leftist FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebels on 23 June 2016 signed a historic ceasefire deal. This ceasefire deal helped in ending more than five decades of conflict, which is regarded as one of the oldest wars of history.
The signing ceremony held at Havana was witnessed by Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, FARC chief Timoleón Timochenko Jiménez, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, Cuban president, Raúl Castro and Venezuela’s head of state, Nicolás Maduro.
The announcement is seen as one of the last steps before a full peace deal is signed, which is expected within weeks via a referendum. The formal peace talks for the deal were started three years ago, in October 2012, in the Cuban capital.
Core area of Peace Talks
The peace talks between the government and the rebels were hosted by the Cuban president, Raúl Castro; while Venezuela that had the observer status played an important role in encouraging FARC to the negotiating table.
The core area of discussion focused on five main areas that is land reform, the rebels' future role in political life, a definitive end of hostilities, fighting the illegal drug trade and the situation of the victims.
FARC : The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People's Army (FARC-EP) is a left wing militant organization established in 1964. It is Colombia's largest rebel group and Latin America's oldest left-wing insurgency. It is active in Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador.
Like any left-wing militant organisation, its aim is to overthrow the government in power. It was established as a communist-inspired peasant army fighting for land reform and to reduce the gulf dividing rich and poor in the Andean country. It resulted in killing of an estimated 2.2 lakh people and displaced almost seven million.
Timeline of Columbian Conflict :
2000 : Around 24 revel leaders were assassinated in a covert programme by the CIA and NSA. The programme was started after US president George W Bush expanded Bill Clinton’s military aid to Colombia in a 9 billion dollar package to bolster the army in its drug war.
Between February 2002 to July 2008: Presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt was kidnapped by FARC, and this kidnapping ended the peace talks. This action forced president, Alvaro Uribe to began a new campaign against the group. This action that included modernized army and the US aid resulted in decrease of the number of rebels to 8000 from 16000 in 2001.
Later, the FARC leader Marulanda due to heart attack after which Betancourt was freed along with other hostages.
February 2012-2014 : Programme of kidnappings was closed by the FARC and enters into the peace talks again with Juan Manuel Santos’s new administration. But it continued ceasefire never came into effect.
June-September 2015 : Unilateral ceasefire was declared by FARC and the talks continued in Cuba under President Castro regime.
June 2016 : The peace talks hosted by Castro resulted in signing of a bilateral ceasefire between Colombian government and FARC leaders in Havana.