When Frank Pearl watches Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo “Timochenko” Londono, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), sign a peace agreement Monday in Cartagena, it will be the culmination of more than seven years of work to cultivate hope over the suspicion and anger sown from half a century of war.
It was Mr. Pearl, a Colombian-Canadian, who was tasked with sending the first secret messages from the government to the infamous guerrilla organization in an effort to try to start a peace process. It has consumed his life, through clandestine meetings in tiny country towns and four years of marathon negotiating sessions in Havana.
With the signing of the agreement, set for 5 p.m. local time, the FARC ceases to exist as an armed movement and becomes a political party. Its estimated 17,000 fighters are to collect at a handful of points in the country, turn over their weapons, and begin a process of integration and job training. The FARC will send members to guaranteed seats in Congress, while a series of special courts will decide on reparations from those found guilty of crimes against humanity, after they fully disclose to a truth commission. The FARC has pledged to end its involvement in narco-trafficking, a business it currently controls in Colombia.
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