"Negotiators reached a breakthrough in talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) just a day after Pope Francis left Cuba, following more than 40 rounds of discussions held in Havana since November 2012. On September 23, 2015, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, in a highly symbolic gesture, shook hands with the leader of the FARC, Ricardo Londoño (alias Timochenko), during a stop on his way to the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. The long-time foes, who some observers say were prodded by the pontiff, announced a timetable to complete the peace talks, a framework for a transitional justice system for assisting victims, and a date for disarmament of the FARC. According to Colombian government estimates, some 220,000 Colombians have died in the 51-year internal armed conflict, about 80% of them civilians. Additionally, 7 million people (15% of the population) have been registered as victims from forced displacement, land mine accidents, and related violence. The FARC is Latin America's oldest, largest, and best-financed guerilla insurgency. Colombia's second largest leftist group is the National Liberation Army (ELN) and it has been in preliminary negotiations with the Santos government since last year. Some analysts speculate that this development in the FARC-government negotiations may spur the start of formal talks with the ELN."
CRS Insight, IN10372
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html