Colombian rebels have handed over almost all weapons

Aaron Brown
June 28, 2017

United Nations monitors in the country said on Monday that the arms handover had been completed a day ahead of a revised schedule.

The process is a symbolic end to the violence which wracked Colombia for over half a century after peace talks in Havana, Cuba, which lasted from 2012 to 2016, ended with a final peace accord.

The accord, first signed in November, was initially narrowly rejected by Colombians in a referendum before being redrafted and pushed through congress.

In the event in Mesetas, a small central town in an area that was once the group's stronghold, Timochenko said the Farc would continue to exist, but in a different legal and democratic form as it enters a new phase in its history. But experts at Notre Dame University's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies say the one-gun per fighter ratio seen in Colombia could be one of the highest in the world, far greater than the levels of disarmament seen in recent guerrilla conflicts from Guatemala to Nepal. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will transform into a political party after a congress in August. Nonetheless both the FARC and the government say they are making steady progress as the rebels transition to civilian life.

Those accused of crimes in the conflict will be tried by special courts and some will get amnesties or reduced sentences. Nearly every guerrilla at the Mariana Paez camp recalled the decade-long bloodletting that followed a previous attempt at peace in the 1980s, when as many 3,000 members of a FARC-aligned political party were gunned down by right-wing paramilitary assassins, sometimes in cahoots with state intelligence services.

The FARC and the government have promised to stamp out the drug production that has fueled the conflict.

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It kidnapped two Dutch journalists on June 19 and freed them five days later.

Three women were killed in a bombing at a crowded shopping center in Bogota on June 17.

More than 220,000 people have died and 5 million have been internally displaced due to the Colombian conflict since the FARC's Marxist-inspired founding in 1964. That was blamed on a fringe extremist group, the Revolutionary People's Movement (MRP). The FARC has pledged to use its assets to compensate victims.

The accord promises land and credit lines for rural communities, with millions of dollars of investment.

Controversy has also dogged the weapons handoff, with conservative former President Alvaro Uribe leading a chorus of opponents questioning whether the FARC has turned over its entire arsenal.

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