by Staff Writers
Mitú, Colombia (AFP) Aug 20, 2016
Colombia launched an initiative on Friday to plant a tree for each of the more than eight million victims of the country's 50-year armed conflict.
President Juan Manuel Santos, whose government is negotiating peace agreements with the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), planted the first tree Friday near the southeastern city of Mitu.
Trees for the "Forests of Peace" project will be planted throughout the country, sponsored by people around the world via the NGO Saving the Amazon website, Santos said.
The plan is to "plant a number equal to that of the victims of armed conflict, in excess of eight million," he said.
"We will plant more than eight million trees in memory of the victims so that we will never again reproduce the atrocities of armed conflict that this war has brought to us," he added, saying every tree will bear a victim's name.
"This forest of peace will be managed and controlled by indigenous communities, who know best how to do it," Santos said, while planting the first tree.
"Someone in Paris, New York, Bogota or here in Mitu can go on (the website) and fund a tree for $20, and become the virtual owner," he added.
"We will give the world the opportunity to contribute to peace in Colombia, but at the same time the preservation of humanity and the planet in planting forests and preserving the environment," he said.
Colombia's territorial conflict, which began in 1964, has been the longest-running war in Latin America, involving leftist guerilla groups and right-wing paramilitaries, and has left at least 260,000 people dead, 45,000 missing and millions displaced.
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