Colombia-guerrilla peace deal expected Wednesday


Expectation were running high late Tuesday that a peace deal with the nation’s largest guerrilla group might be in the works after almost four years of negotiations.

On Tuesday, Caracol television said a deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas will be announced in coming hours. Sources in the government peace commission also confirmed that an announcement is likely Wednesday evening.

In addition, negotiators in Havana, where the talks are taking place, tweeted out a group picture late Tuesday with the message: “The day is coming...we’re on the road to peace.”

Even if negotiations are finalized, there are still some major steps ahead. President Juan Manuel Santos has said the deal will be signed in Colombia, and that ceremony, which is expected to be a high-profile event with visiting dignitaries, could still be days or weeks away.

And the pact itself will have to be ratified in a national referendum. Polls have produced mix results on that front, as the deal faces challenges from critics who worry the government gave away too much at the bargaining table.

Even so, an announcement Wednesday would bring an end to a historic negotiation process that started in 2012. The deal will also mark a major turning point for the region, as it ends the hemisphere’s oldest and bloodiest civil conflict, which has claimed more than 220,000 lives and forced more than 6 million people to flee their homes.