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Colombia and FARC sign peace deal

A historic peace agreement was signed today in Cartagena, Colombia, between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC).

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban President Raul Castro were amongst thsoe present as the Colombian president and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez, signed the peace accord, with a pen made from a bullet.

There is a deep history of armed conflict in Colombia, with eleven civil wars spanning over a century since 1810. In the 1950s, there was continued conflict over land and power that persisted for decade – giving rise to the FARC. The FARC, the armed wing of the Communist Party, was founded in 1964, at a time when stark inequalities were rising across the country.

Through the deal, the government is taking responsibility over the issue of unequal land distribution and has committed to working with rebels in order to provide alternative livelihoods to the thousands who currently rely on the cocaine trade.

The FARC will confess to the human rights abuses that they perpetrated and will make efforts to provide reparations in impacted communities. Furthermore, the FARC will be reconfigured into a political party and they must surrender all weapons to the UN within a 180-day period. The signing of the peace deal is to be followed by a referendum on October 2nd – which will solidify the agreement.

Over the last five decades some 220,000 people have been killed in the conflict. After Syria, Colombia has the highest rate of internally displaced people.