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CCTV America Insight: FARC and Colombian government close to signing deal

Reporter: Michelle Begue 丨 CCTV.com

09-21-2016 05:30 BJT

Leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, are holding talks with their followers, asking them to back a peace agreement with the country's government. It's a deal that will end a conflict that has raged for generations. And if all goes as planned, that peace deal will be signed next week.

Two of the most important issues concern who owns land in Colombia, and how to re-integrate guerillas back into civil society.

"We reached an agreement on rural development which simply translates into more development for rural areas and better quality of life for our farmers," President Juan Manuel Santos announced.

Colombia’s rich soil boosts the nation’s vegetation. Land ownership means wealth in Colombia, and very few people own it. According to a UN study, the distribution of land in Colombia is among the most unequal in the world, with more than half of farms in the hands of just over 1 percent of landowners.

So the two sides have agreed to re-distribute land through a new “Lands for Peace” fund. They’ve pledged to improve the country’s infrastructure, its health and education services and step up efforts to eradicate poverty.

The guerrillas asked for assurance that they’ll have political power when they lay down their arms, and they got it. The agreement guarantees their participation in government.

"The important aspects that so far have been agreed on political participation give Colombians the possibility of opening the doors for a true democracy," said Ivan Marquez, FARC Peace negotiator.

Opening doors to a stronger democracy will require closing doors on drugs. The government has long accused the guerrillas of drug trafficking to fund their war. To help beat swords into plowshares, there are programs to encourage the FARC to swap coca for coffee, or other crops unrelated to the drug trade.

The agreement also addresses the healing process. Bogota’s Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation is for the same purpose. The center’s sculpture garden is dedicated to the conflict’s estimated six million victims.

Now, Latin America’s longest armed conflict is finally over.

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