Colombians took to the streets of Bogota on 23 June to celebrate the historic ceasefire agreement that was signed by the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels. They were seen hugging each other, flying Colombian flags and singing the national anthem.
The deal signed in Havana, Cuba, in the presence of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc Commander Timoleón "Timochenko" Jiménez, marks the end of more than 50 years of civil war and bloodshed in what is termed to be Latin America's longest running insurgency. The event was also attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the presidents of Chile, Venezuela, Cuba and the Norwegian foreign minister.
Farc chief Jimenez, his voice choked up with tears, said, "May this be the last day of the war. We are close to a final peace accord."
The final peace deal will require a referendum in the country for approval but cessation of hostilities and disarmament of guerrillas are important steps to resolve the conflict that killed around 250,000 people and displaced millions of others.
President Santos was quoted as saying, "Colombia got used to living in conflict. We don't have even the slightest memories of what it means to live in peace. Today a new chapter opens, one that brings back peace and gives our children the possibility of not reliving history."
The UN secretary general welcomed the deal while Castro said it is a "victory for the people of Colombia". The final peace treaty is expected in July, Al Jazeera reported.
Although an informal ceasefire has been in place for months, the Farc forces were reluctant to disarm themselves as they feared anti leftist violence again, which killed almost 3,000 people from the Unión Patriótica political movement in the late 1980's and 1990's. Public hostility for Farc is high but the government has assured people of safety.