Fifty years of conflict with the Colombia’s largest rebel group has led to 220,000 deaths and 5 million people being driven from their homes. It has been one of the longest conflicts in history.

Now, at the end of four propaganda-filled years of distrustful peace talks, a handshake has ended the political bloodshed.

  • The government of Colombia and the rebel group called the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have signed an accord.
  • Colombian government’s head of delegation for peace talks, Humberto de la Calle, and the FARC-EP Commander Ivan Marquez, signed the document in Havana, Cuba.
  • When Ivan Marquez, who represented the FARC rebels, ended his speech on TV, the plaza in Colombia’s capital of Bogotá erupted in song. People sang the national anthem in the streets and yelled, “Viva Colombia!”
  • You can see the celebrations in the video below:

The full text of the accord has not yet been released, and it must be ratified by voters before taking effect.

The accord will mean that Colombia’s government will:

  • Have aggressive land reform
  • Completely overhaul its narcotics strategy
  • Take control of neglected parts of the country

What will happen next?

  • The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, will call for a plebiscite to get Colombians’ vote to endorse the deal so it can be ratified.
  • 13% of the electorate, 4.4 million people, must vote in favor of it.
  • The vote could happen next month, and as long as no surprises appear in the text of the accord, it will likely be endorsed by the people.
  • If surprises appear, the opposition will likely try to have a referendum on Santos’ presidency since his approval ratings have been falling lately.
  • Once the agreement becomes official, FARC will hand their guns over to UN monitors within 90 days.

Great political divides will remain as FARC integrates with other citizens into Colombian society. Colombians see FARC as terrorists responsible for cocaine trade, while FARC sees Colombia’s government as oligarchs who bend to the will of the US.

Several peripheral concerns still remain. Colombia is still the world’s top supplier of cocaine. The power vacuum that will be left in the cocaine trade after FARC is disarmed may cause gangs to fight for control so they can get in on the profit. Also, another rebel army will still remain, the National Liberation Army, but it is much smaller than FARC and they are in talks about a peace deal already. While Colombia has seen its homicide rate decline, but it is still one of the deadliest countries in the world…and it might have to look out for Donald Trump, too.

Did you know a pirate ship was found off the coast of Colombia? Guess how many billions of dollars of treasure was in it!