Colombian Government, FARC Move Closer To Peace Deal

Colombian Government, FARC Move Closer To Peace Deal

The Colombian government and FARC are moving closer to a peace deal, which could mark the end of a 50-year war. Although the negotiations are ongoing, the parties vowed to reach an agreement within the next six months.

On Wednesday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timochenko reached a breakthrough agreement on punishments for human rights violations. As reported by BBC, "the issue had been seen as one of the biggest hurdles on the road to peace."

Santos admits the negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC included some concessions. However, he is looking forward to "bidding farewell to the longest-running conflict in the Americas."

Although the agreement is expected to end decades of devastating conflict, opponents have openly criticized the agreement. In a Twitter post, Former President Alvaro Uribe said "it's not peace that's near, it's the surrender to Farc and the tyranny of Venezuela."

According to the United Nations, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, commonly referred to as FARC, "is the oldest and largest group among Colombia's left-wing rebels and is one of the world's richest guerrilla armies."

Authorities suspect FARC amassed their fortune through the trafficking of illegal drugs -- primarily cocaine. It is estimated that the rebel group makes between $500 million and $600 million each year.

In addition to drug trafficking, the left-wing rebels are suspected in numerous kidnappings and deaths.

The Unit for Attention and Reparation of Victims estimates more than 220,000 people were killed amid conflicts between the Colombian government and FARC rebels. According to the UARV, "more than seven million" people were victimized by the rebel group in the last 51 years.

Although FARC has a history of illegal activity and violence, Timochenko said he is committed to reaching a peace agreement with President Santos.

"It's now up to both parties to multiply efforts to construct the consensus that will bring a bilateral ceasefire, agreements about abandoning arms, and the transformation of the FARC into a legal political movement."

As reported by Reuters, both parties agreed to "the formation of a truth commission," which will oversee amnesty and reparation negotiations.

"We will not fail. The hour of peace is here."

-- VICE News (@vicenews) September 24, 2015

The Colombian government and FARC committed to sign the peace agreement on March 23, 2016. However, Colombian Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo admitted it "will take years" to repair the damage and truly move forward.

[Image via Brendan McDermid-Pool / Getty Images]