In an effort to end five decades of fighting, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londono Echeverri, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), agreed to a landmark “transitional justice” deal in September set to pave the way for a definitive peace pact.
The FARC emerged in 1964, in response to decades of government neglect and oppression of the country’s landless peasants. Former Colombian President Andres Pastrana met in the late 90s with then head and founder of the FARC Manuel Marulanda Velez to try and end the armed uprising, but those talks failed.
Over the years, the FARC has resorted to various methods to fund its movement, including kidnapping for ransom. French journalist Romeo Langlois and former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt were among its most high-profile kidnap victims. The rebels’ combat tactics have included non-conventional weapons, such as homemade bombs.
According to Colombia’s National Center for Historical Memory, a government agency, armed conflict in Colombia from 1958 to 2012 has claimed some 218,094 lives: 19% of the victims were combatants, and 81%, civilians.
The peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC are being hosted by Havana, Cuba, with support from the United Nations and the Red Cross, as well as other countries, including Norway and Venezuela.