Colombia on the brink of ending its 51-year-long armed conflict

Street art in Medellín, Colombia (Photo Credit: Deúniti, colectivo creativo via Flick Creative Commons)

Peace negotiators have reached a major breakthrough to end the Western Hemisphere’s long-running armed conflict. Shannon Young has more.

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After nearly three years of peace talks, the Colombian government and the FARC- the country’s largest and oldest rebel army – are on the brink of ending their more than five decades of armed conflict.

At a press conference Wednesday evening in Havana, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced the last major hurdle to peace had been cleared and the two sides are now in the final stretch of reaching a lasting agreement.

“By March 23rd of 2016 at the latest, exactly six months from now, we will be bidding a final farewell to what has been not only the longest war in Colombia, but in the Americas,” Santos said. “We have also agreed that the FARC will begin laying down their arms within a maximum of 60 days after the signing of the final accord.”

The final sticking point in the talks had to do with creating a framework for bringing those accused of serious offenses and human rights abuses to trial. Those who come forward willingly as part of a reconciliation process will qualify for shorter sentences.

According to negotiators, Pope Francis played a positive – albeit indirect – role in the latest round of talks. The announcement  came just one day after the pope left Havana for the United States.

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