Latin America's longest armed conflict comes to an end
The Colombian government has reached a historic truce with FARC, ending over half a century of violence with the leftist group. Latin America's longest conflict claimed at least 220,000 lives.
How the insurgency started
In 1948, the assassination of populist leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan sparked political chaos in Colombia known as "the violence." Tens of thousands died and peasant groups joined with communists to arm themselves. Later in 1964, a military attack on the insurgency's main encampment led to the creation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC.
What the rebels wanted
FARC's political ideology has never been well defined. Initially, it sought to weaken the oligarchy's grip on power. The rebels also wanted land reforms in a country where more than 5 million people have been forcibly displaced, mostly by far-right militias. However, the group lost popularity as it turned to kidnapping and illegal gold mining for funds.
How the US got involved
To help the Colombian security forces fight against the insurgency and to counter drug-trafficking, the US began sending billions of dollars under Plan Colombia. The US State Department classifies the group as a terrorist organization and its leaders face US indictments.
The human cost of the conflict
Latin America's longest-running armed conflict is responsible for the death an estimated 220,000 people, while millions of Colombians have been displaced within their country. According to Bogota’s estimates, there are 7.6 million direct and indirect victims of the conflict. The country has more landmine victims than any country except for Afghanistan.
Peace accord after decades of failed attempts
Peace talks between FARC and the government collapsed in the mid 1980s after at least 3,000 allies of FARC's political wing Patriotic Union Party were killed at the hands of right-wing paramilitaries. Efforts fell short again in 2002 after the rebels hijacked an airliner to kidnap a senator. The latest round of talks started in 2012 in Havana and culminated on August 24, 2016 with a deal.
50 years of conflict
"We have reached a final, integral and definitive agreement" to end the conflict and build a stable, lasting peace, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia said in a joint statement. In June, the negotiators had already announced a cease-fire agreement and a blueprint for how the estimated 7,000 to 8,000 fighters will demobilize.