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Since the 1980s, the various Colombian governments have undertaken efforts toward peace, and today we have taken the most definitive step in this direction, as the agreement not only means the end of fighting and hostilities, but we have also established a precise timetable for the FARC-EP to definitively lay down arms, Santos said.The President noted that the children and youth of today’s Colombia have not known a single day without armed conflict, they have grown and lived with the fear and uncertainty of war. Colombia is accustomed to living in conflict and we have almost no references as to what living in peace is like, he said.

The fact is that the horror of war has become part of everyday life, the President stressed. He added that today this long and tragic page of history was being turned over, and a new chapter was being written, which would provide hope and heal wounds, providing Colombia’s children with the opportunity not to repeat the history that has caused so much damage.

The time has come to be a country at peace, Santos stated, adding that the agreement would guarantee that this peace was definitive and solid.

As we approach a final agreement, we must emphasize the importance of what has been achieved so far, Santos stressed, adding that the end of the conflict would mean no more Colombian victims of war and allow the country’s children to be just that, to play and to study.

Likewise, the President emphasized that there will be justice for the victims of all the years of violence and that there will be no impunity: all those who committed atrocities will be punished. Meanwhile, Colombia’s rural areas will see a new future, as hundreds and thousands of families displaced by the violence, will be able to return home and begin to produce and develop these regions.

Santos stated that the agreement also seeks to strengthen democracy in the country, where ideas will be defended through reasoning and never with the use of arms. This is a future within our reach, of a country where we can grow in peace, he noted.

Despite the outstanding issues to be addressed, Santos expressed his confidence that a final peace agreement in Colombia would be reached.

The Colombian President thanked Cuba and Norway as guarantor countries at the negotiating table, and also Chile and Venezuela for accompanying the process. He also reiterated his gratitude to all the leaders of friendly nations accompanying today’s ceremony.

Finally, although he acknowledged having always been a strong opponent of the FARC-EP, the Colombian head of state pledged, once peace was agreed, to defend the organization’s rights with equal force so that they may express themselves through legal channels. “This is the essence of the democracy which we welcome,” he said.

The end of the conflict is the starting point to build unity in diversity and a country where there is room for everyone, Santos stated.
This is the peace of Colombians, the peace which we have waited for during so many years and which is no longer a dream, but rather we are going to build it, the Colombian President concluded.