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Published: Wed, September 28, 2016
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Bradley Byrne calls signing of landmark Colombian peace accord a 'huge victory'


"I do not believe in a peace that doesn't forgive; this is not the peace of Christ; I do not believe in a peace that deceives and is made for political gain", said the president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, explaining that a superficial peace which continues to destroy is not real. Government and guerrilla delegates - accompanied by global guarantors - sat at the negotiating table in Havana, Cuba for four long years to reach deals on agricultural reform, drug policy, fighting organized crime, the participation of the FARC and marginalized social groups in politics, transnational justice, and reparations for victims. The signing ceremony was attended by some 2,500 guests including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, former Spanish King Juan Carlos, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Earlier, he led the crowd in chants of "No more war!

No more war! No more war!" and urged Colombians to ratify the accord in an October 2 national referendum that will determine its fate.

"No one should doubt that we will conduct politics without arms", said Timochenko, who sought forgiveness from Farc victims. Across the country Monday residents celebrated the historical signing. The FARC leader known as alias Timochenko said in his speech that the armed group would not give up its left winged ideals but would pursue them without arms.

"In the name of the FARC I offer my apologies to all of the victims of the conflict and for all the suffering that we may have caused in this war", Timochenko said.

The stiff domestic opposition, which will make implementation even tougher, contrasts with nearly universal worldwide acclaim overseas for the accord. On Monday, European Union foreign policy coordinator Federica Mogherini said that with the signing of the peace agreement, the EU would suspend the FARC from its list of terrorist organizations.

Colombians' distrust of the FARC runs deep. However, in order to do this, one must draw near to these people "without time restrains, to the point of identifying oneself with them".

The FARC was established in 1964 by self-defense groups and communist activists who joined forces to resist a government military onslaught.

If the accord is accepted by Colombian voters, Farc's estimated 7,000 fighters would have to turn over their weapons to a team of United Nations-sponsored observers within six months.

In his homily for the Mass honoring the agreement, Cardinal Parolin said that while the deal marks the end of a long negotiation, it also signals the beginning of "a process, still open, of change which requires the support and respect of all Colombians".

"This is something I waited for my whole life — that I dreamed of every day", said Leon Valencia, a former guerrilla who is one of the most respected experts on Colombia's conflict.

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