A historic deal has been reached in Havana in the Colombia-FARC talks, setting up the possibility of peace in the country for the first time in more than 50 years. Nathan Frandino reports.
It was a historic first meeting, Colombian President Juan Manual Santos and FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono promising to bring peace to their country. The pledge comes after 51 years of killings, disappearances and damage to the economy...a civil war that now has a final end date. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT, JUAN MANUEL SANTOS, SAYING: "It will be March 23, 2016. I repeat, March 23, 2016 will be the latest day. In exactly six months we will give a definitive and ultimate goodbye to the longest war in Colombia, not just Colombia but all of the America." The FARC rebel group began as a peasant rights movement in 1964 before turning increasingly violent. Fifty years on, it's estimated the conflict has killed 220,000 people. But now, the deal - reached in Havana after almost three years of talks - sets up a special court to try the worst crimes of the conflict. It also sets potential amnesty deals for some and a deadline for rebels to disarm. In Bogata, the news is dominating the headlines, giving hope to some Colombians. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) HUMBERTO RAMIREZ, COLOMBIAN MAN, SAYING: "This is a very important beginning so that, after 50 years of war in our country, we Colombians can live in peace." For Diego Quintero, brother of kidnapped and assassinated congressman Antonio Quintero Herrera, the deal represents a potential chance for closure. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BROTHER OF KIDNAPPED CONGRESSMAN, ANTONIO QUINTERO HERRERA, DIEGO QUINTERO, SAYING: "They owe us an explanation, and now more than ever, we're going to demand it." But before it can become law, the deal must be approved in a referendum... and standing in the way is an opposition that includes former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) COLOMBIAN SENATOR AND FORMER COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT, ALVARO URIBE, SAYING: "This is a prize for crimes against humanity, like the massacre in Bojaya, the car bomb of Nogal and massive assassination of the deputies from Valle del Cauca." And there are many others, like Uribe, who demand more from any agreement with the FARC rebels...although with the wheels now in motion, there are appears to more support for any deal that ends the fighting and brings peace to Colombia.