Today marks the beginning of the end of Colombia's 50-year war, Latin America's longest-running armed conflict, as the country's definitive ceasefire goes into effect.
The Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas agreed to the ceasefire as part of a historic peace accord signed last Wednesday. On Friday, President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the government would halt attacks on the FARC beginning August 29.
On Sunday, FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, known as 'Timochenko’, also announced that the group would stop hostilities beginning at 12:00 a.m. Monday, affirming that the "war in Colombia is over."
"Never again will parents be burying their sons and daughters killed in the war," said Londoño. "All rivalries and grudges will remain in the past."
Santos echoed that message, tweeting Sunday: "In a few hours [we'll] close one of the country's most painful chapters. A ceasefire is a historic step toward a definitive #GoodbyetotheWar."
The president sent the full text of the peace agreement to Colombia's legislature in order to schedule a referendum, in which citizens will decide whether or not to approve the accord.
Scheduled for October 2, the referendum establishes that 7,000 FARC rebels will begin reintegrating as civilians, leaving their jungle and mountain strongholds and surrendering their weapons to the United Nations.
The peace talks began in October 2012 and parties negotiated a five-point agenda, which ended June 23, when both sides agreed to a definitive ceasefire.
The accord covered a range of issues including rural development and distribution of land; political participation for demobilized guerrillas; drug trafficking and illicit crops; and reparations.
The five-decades-long conflict left 260,000 dead, some 7 million displaced and 45,000 missing, according to official figures.