Latin America has reached yet another crucial milestone. As Monday unfolded, a 52-year-old insurgency was brought to an end as Farc (the Spanish acronym for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) -the counry&’s main Leftist group – ordered its fighters to observe a ceasefire with immediate effect. It will give up its armed struggle and join the political process, and this is precisely the facet of historical significance. It is curtains on one of the world&’s longest insurgencies, and the truce has attained fruition after four years of peace talks with Cuba playing the honest broker. In itself, the time-span underscores the intensity of the conflict. Stability in a part of Latin America is bound to have its impact on the region as a whole, convulsed by revolutionary turmoil, and even corruption at the highest level.
The truce, somewhat coincidentally in parallel with the start of the impeachment proceedings against Dilma Rouseff of Brazil, are two sides of the volatile South American coin. When the Farc leader, Timoleon Jimenez, gave the order to stop firing, it was more than a historic announcement; he has crafted a chapter in the Latin American narrative. The enormity of the tragedy that has convulsed the nation since 1964 is apparent from his succinct comment – “Never again will parents be burying their sons and daughters killed in the war. All rivalries and grudges will remain in the past.” Details of the ceasefire agreement are yet to be announced, though the insurgents have let it be known that the final peace accord will be signed over the next few weeks. In the immediate perspective, Colombia heralds a cessation of hostilities and this ought to be reckoned as a signal achievement in the context of the far longer spell of jaw-jaw, if not war-war, in other theatres of the world.
Well and truly has Latin American studies entered a new phase with the remarkable reciprocal act by the Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos. He has signed a decree to halt military operations against Farc, also from midnight. “One of the country&’s most painful chapters is coming to an end,” he said , asserting that the ceasefire is a “historic step”. The world, not least mainland America in an election year, must fervently hope that it is a watershed moment towards enduring peace. Is the Left trimming its sails to the winds of change… from Cuba to Colombia? Markedly once more, the rebel leaders and the establishment have echoed similar sentiments, which raises hope at a crucial juncture. What matters most of all is the mutual gesture of reciprocity and goodwill. That spirit will hopefully be reinforced towards the end of September when President Santos and the Farc leader sign the peace pact.