BOGOTA – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Tuesday that after removing weapons from the zones where the FARC guerrillas are making their transition back to society, what comes now is building peace, calling it the “most important phase” for the country.
“Now the phase begins that I would say is the most important, which is building peace in the territories that have suffered from the conflict ... because throughout Colombia we need peace, we need reconciliation,” said the president at a meeting with 323 young people from 85 public and private universities as part of the “Hands for Peace” program.
The students taking part in the program will contribute to building a new country in 157 cities and towns in 17 of Colombia’s 32 provinces.
“I’ve said that on this long road to peace there would be an initial phase that was the end of the conflict. That phase officially ended yesterday. Yesterday, the process began of removing the weapons from the rural areas,” Santos said.
The United Nations mission in Colombia on Monday removed the first container of weapons handed in by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels in the zones where they have gathered as part of the process of reincorporating themselves into legal society.
On June 27, Santos said that the government’s more-than-50-year conflict with the FARC was at an end in a ceremony at which the guerrillas symbolically completed the process of laying down their arms.
The president noted that with the removal of the weapons from the rural zones, the FARC – as an entity – legally disappears and that this “means that the cease-fire that had been officially decreed (with the rebels) has ended.”