“The War in Colombia Is Over,” President Santos Tells the World During Trip to Address United Nations, Meet with Barack Obama
Today in New York, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told the world what he has been waiting more than four years to say. After a long, contentious tenure in office spent staking his entire political career on signing a peace agreement with the nation’s largest guerrilla group, he stood in front of the United Nations General Assembly and delivered biggest message of his life.
“Today, I have come to the United Nations to announce — with my full voice and heart — that the war in Colombia is over,” said President Santos. He added that, “today, we have reason for hope, because we have one less war in the world.”
In August, the government reached an agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to end more than a half-century of conflict that has killed some 220,000 people and displaced another seven million.
While the final accord won’t be signed until next week, during a ceremony in Cartagena on September 26, and the deal needs to be ratified by a plebiscite vote on October 2, President Santos believes there will be no going back. The “Yes” to peace vote is polling at nearly 70% nationally, and it looks like the war that turned cold nearly a year ago when FARC began its ceasefire will formally conclude within weeks.
The arms the guerrillas used to fight will then become a symbol of peace. “Their weapons will be melted down and will be turned into three monuments for peace, one in New York, one in Cuba where the talks took place, and one in Colombia,” said President Santos. “These monuments will remind us that the bullets are behind us and that the construction of a new and better country has begun.”
President Santos also met with U.S. President Barack Obama during his trip to New York to discuss the peace agreement and Colombia’s post-conflict future. According to the White House, President Obama congratulated his Colombian counterpart on ending the combat and offered his support in ensuring that it is a lasting peace.
While the United States will elect a new president in November, President Obama noted that there is bipartisan support for “Peace Colombia,” the initiative he announced in February to maintain the 15-year-long financial support that country provided through its so-called Plan Colombia.
According to the White House, the two heads of state also discussed their collaborative plans to continue fighting organized crime and drug trafficking along with the need to protect human rights.
Photo Credit: United Nations