The guerillas' last march: Colombia’s rebels lay down their arms | The World Weekly
Rifle in hand, sitting on an old red raft, 50 FARC members on Sunday meandered down the river Caquetá towards Puerto Asís, a town deep in the Amazon, where a UN deployment was ready to collect their arms.More than 6,000 other guerrilla fighters travelled by foot, truck, jeep, boat and mule through the thick Colombian jungle to fulfill their side of the recent peace deal. After 52 years of bloodshed, they are disarming and reintegrating into society.Founded in 1964, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) began as a Marxist-Leninist peasant group, but increasing involvement in the drug trade changed both its military potency and its ideology. The fighters became infamous for high-profile kidnappings and violent ambushes against the Colombian army."Who would have imagined the FARC, with its rifles, walking to these areas to give them to the UN?” President Juan Manuel Santos asked. “That is something extraordinary that the world is seeing, admiring and applauding."Mr. Santos, awarded with the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, never gave up on securing a peaceful resolution to Latin America’s longest-running civil war, which had cost over 220,000 lives and displaced more than six million people. When a slender majority of Colombians rejected his initial offering, he got back to work and returned six weeks later with “a better agreement”.The road to peace will not be easy. “Colombian society hates the FARC and if this part of the process is not a success, groups will resurge,” Paula Guisado, a Colombian journalist from Medellín, told The World Weekly.
Only 19% Colombians hold a favourable opinion of FARC, according to the latest Gallup survey from November 2016. This level of support is, however, the highest ever recorded.
After decades in the jungle, it is unknown how many of the ex-rebels can read or write. Most are expected to remain in poor rural areas. Twenty-two transitional camps, scattered around the country, will be supervised by the UN and government forces.Illiteracy, poverty and distrust are difficult barriers. But there has not been a single killing since the deal, and the country ended 2016 with the lowest number of murders in four decades. Goodwill can go a long way.