Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londono, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, commemorated on Tuesday the completion of the guerrillas' disarmament under a peace accord reached last year. Here's a look at how they got here and what lies ahead:
BUMPY ROAD TO PEACE
Santos signed an initial peace accord with the FARC on Sept. 26 in an elaborate ceremony attended by several heads of state, but voters rejected the deal a week later in a referendum by a razor-thin margin. Following that defeat, a revised deal emerged with some 50-plus concessions from the rebel group, including a commitment to forfeit assets obtained through drug trafficking and other criminal activity.
The United Nations certified this week that it had received 7,132 firearms and weapons from a similar number of FARC fighters. According to Notre Dame University's Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies, that is one of the highest ratios of disarmament in recent guerrilla conflicts around the world. But many conservative critics worry the FARC are hiding many more weapons.
The 26 demobilization camps set up around the country are slated to disband by Aug. 1. From there, rank and file rebels will begin their transition back to civilian life. As part of the accord, those accused of atrocities are to appear before special peace tribunals and will be spared jail time if they confess their war crimes. FARC leaders are also committed to implementing with the government a crop substitution plan that will pay peasant farmers to eradicate illegal coca crops in areas the rebel group once dominated.
PROSPECTS FOR PEACE:
The peace deal removes Colombia's largest security threat, but there are concerns that criminal gangs and the much-smaller National Liberation Army will fill the void once the FARC pulls out of rural areas it has traditionally dominated. Most of Colombia's homicides have no direct relationship to the guerrillas, and even before the peace deal violence related to the conflict had fallen to the lowest level in decades.