The announcements made today at the peace talks in Havana represent historic progress toward a final peace agreement to end more than 50 years of armed conflict.
“We will not fail,” Santos said.
Colombia has been abuzz in recent hours with speculation that the government and negotiators for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have reached a tentative agreement on the thorny issue of how to punish rebel commanders accused of human rights abuses.
Two sides of the half-century-long Colombian civil war have reached a major breakthrough in ongoing peace talks, the BBC reports.
It was also the first time he had met Timochenko, with whom he shook hands after the deal was signed – the president clad in a white dress shirt, the guerrilla in a white Cuban-style “guayabera” shirt with pockets.
Timochenko has vowed that there would be “truth, justice, reparations, and no repetition.” The sticking point he said was what would happen if the FARC lied to special tribunals and guarantees that the rebels wouldn’t be extradited to the USA, where they face charges for cocaine trafficking, if they honored their commitments. On Wednesday, however, those disagreements appeared resolved as both sides “finally agreed on a framework for investigating rights abuses, punishing guerrillas for their involvement in those crimes and offering compensation to victims”, the Wall Street Journal notes. The struggle has created one of the world’s highest internally displaced populations.
Santos emphasised the pact is “not directed exclusively at Farc” but at “all those who participated directly or indirectly in the conflict agents of the state and especially members of the security forces”.
The other courtroom is mandated for those who refuse to collaborate with the peace accord’s commission and could face up to 20 years in prison.
Experts on the peace process hailed the deal as a milestone.
People relax next to graffiti of the FARC guerrillas reading “Peace are Changes” at Antioquia university in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia.
Cuba, which is hosting the talks, said Santos had also arrived and that an “important deal will be announced”. We’ve gotten through the mountain stages and now we’re starting the descent. Glyphosate – also known by its brand name Roundup – has been sprayed aerially in Colombia since 1994 under a US-backed coca eradication plan that came with billions of dollars in funding from Washington.
The Colombian conflict began in the turbulent aftermath of a peasant uprising with the founding of the FARC in 1964. FARC, for example, announced a unilateral ceasefire earlier this year only to call it off in May.