After more than 50 years of bloody war with the government, Colombia’s biggest guerrilla force is now unarmed.
Members of the FARC handed the last of their individual weapons to UN peacekeepers on June 26—making a total of 7, 132. They were put into white metal shipping containers (a giant picture of the inside of one, above, was used as a backdrop to the ceremony) and locked away to be later turned into three monuments (link in Spanish.)
The relinquished cache is a key milestone in the peace process set off by an agreement the FARC and the Colombian government signed last November—and the clearest evidence so far for skeptical Colombians that the civil war is really over.
The UN said that cooperation between the two parties to round up the guns was remarkable and hailed it as an international example. The body collected roughly one weapon per fighter (link in Spanish), an unusually high ratio for disarmament processes.
The UN still has to gather other weaponry stored by the FARC in hiding places across the country—the guerrilla group has provided the locations—and there may be some stray combatants who refuse to stop fighting. But the bulk of the fighters have voluntarily gathered at camps to transition into civilian life.
Their new motto: “Our only weapons are words.” Rodrigo Londoño, FARC’s leader, is already deploying them. At the disarmament ceremony, which was broadcast live across Colombia, he harshly criticized the government for what he said were failures to keep its end of the peace deal, including not releasing jailed FARC members.