Latin America's Oldest Rebel Group Ends Its Days as Armed Force

(Bloomberg) -- Colombia largest rebel group handed over its last weapons this week, ending its status as a fighting force following half a century of insurgency.

After four years of peace talks that ended in 2016, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has handed over 7,132 weapons in the past few months, according to the United Nation mission that certified the process.

“From now on, your word will be your only weapon,” President Juan Manuel Santos said today at an event with FARC members in the eastern municipality of Mesetas. “This is the best news for Colombia in the last 50 years.”

FARC leaders are now seeking to create a political movement and promote alliances ahead of the 2018 presidential elections. The insurgency, one of the longest civil conflicts in the world, left more than 200,000 people dead and displaced millions from their lands. During the fighting, rebels financed its activities with drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping.

The implementation of the peace accord includes agrarian reform, the eradication of drug crops and reparation for the victims of the conflict. It has an estimated cost of 129.5 trillion pesos ($43 billion) to be financed over 15 years, according to the finance ministry.

The process still faces harsh critics from political leaders, including former President Alvaro Uribe who said last week that if his political movement wins next year’s election, changes to the implementation process will be carried out.