The last armed conflict in Latin America is finally ending

(CNN)A conflict that lasted over five decades. An estimated 220,000 people killed. Five million displaced. These staggering figures are now consigned to history as the Colombian government buries the hatchet with its longtime nemesis, the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebel group, better known by its In a symbolic gesture, the pens used to sign the historic peace deal, years in the making, have been made from recycled bullets once used in the conflict. An inscription on the side of the pens reads: «Bullets wrote our past. Education, our future.»
The two sides, joined by leaders from the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Uruguay, Cuba and the United Nations, came together on Monday in the coastal colonial city of Cartagena to sign the accord. «Today, Colombians are bidding farewell to decades of flames, and sending up a bright flare of hope that illuminates the entire world,» UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the signing ceremony.
The rebels voted unanimously to approve a deal that was finalized in August to end the 52-year-old conflict, Latin America’s longest-running. It still needs to be ratified by voters, who will consider the agreement in a single-issue referendum on October 2.
The treaty, signed by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, better known as Timochenko, requires rebels to give up their weapons and participate in a transitional justice process toward reintegration.New political era
If and when the deal is approved by the electorate, the FARC will cease to be a rebel group and instead enter into politics as a left-wing party.
The treaty grants the FARC 10 political seats, but it remains to be seen whether the rebel group, founded on Marxist ideologies of class struggle, can effectively transition into a political platform.While the deal symbolizes a chance for future generations to come of age in peace, the deal also signals a new chapter for the region. The longest-running war in the Americas will finally be over, bringing an end to armed political conflict in Latin America.
However, not all groups are bound by the peace deal. The second most powerful group following the FARC, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, has announced interest in the peace deal but refused to end its practice of kidnapping.