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Colombian Government, FARC Rebels To Sign Peace Accord

One of the deadliest chapters in the decades-long armed conflict in Colombia will come to a close on Monday following the signing of a peace agreement between Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and the leader of the FARC guerillas, alias Timoleon Jimenez.

Some have offered praise for the agreement for paving the way to restore battered investor confidence in Colombia’s oil industry.

At approximately 5:00 PM local time, both men are expected to mark the historic occasion in the port city in front of an audience of 2500 victims of war as well as dignitaries including United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, International Monetary Fund President Christine Lagarde, and United States Secretary of State John Kerry.

The pact is the end result of four years of difficult and sometimes tense negotiations, and a judicial mechanism to potentially try rebel commanders on charges including massacres and other crimes against humanity. As part of the deal, FARC rebels have 180 days to lay down their weapons and move into disarmament zones established by the UN. The guerillas must also help uncover many thousands of mines that litter the countryside and put an immediate halt to drug cultivation in areas under their control.

The pact would also permit the FARC to become their own political party and grant them the possibility to run for local and federal positions as long as they keep their end of the bargain.

Polls suggest that the deal will be easily ratified in a plebiscite on 2 October, six days after the agreement is signed.

The accord has run into strong opposition by some conflict victims as well as neoconservative politicians led by ex-President Alvaro Uribe who claim the rebels will not be punished for their crimes during war, and worry over the cost of reintegrating some 7000 rebels into society. Others like the head of the Colombian chamber of oil goods and services (Campetrol) allege the local oil industry will be hampered by more violence and instability.

Nevertheless, business groups have for the most part supported the agreement that they believe will be a boost to an economy lagging from the decreased oil earnings. Francisco Lourido Muñoz, the chief of the Sociedad de Agricultores y Ganaderos del Valle del Cauca, for example, recently claimed the peace deal represents a hope for the economy via the generation of employment and greater revenues from exports.

“We could have grown between 2% and 3% more per year for the past 23 years,” said Santos in an interview earlier today regarding how war has hindered what is currently Latin America’s fourth-largest economy.

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By Erwin Cifuentes for Oilprice.com

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