Colombia’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia FARC, the largest rebel group in the country have signed a deal to end more than 50 years of conflict, the final agreement was announced on Wednesday 24th of August. This signifies the end of the last major guerrilla struggle in Latin America.
Colombians need now to decide if the agreement will take effect or not, there is a referendum taking place on October 2nd where they will vote if are agreed or not with the deal signed in the Habana, Cuba.
However, although it sounds incredible the deal has strong political opposition lead for Alvaro Uribe, the country’s last president and who has been the President Juan Manuel Santos‘ political fiercest opponent since 2012. He argues the FARC are getting too much indulgence and not facing harsh enough sentences. He is using his power and influence to persuade his followers and political supporters to vote “NO” on the referendum. If the final result shows the people don’t approve the deal, Alvaro Uribe suggests to come back to the negotiation stage and give less to the FARC, for sure after four years of negotiation the FARC won’t sit again at the negotiation table to make changes or have less. Therefore, the result could be the continuation of the conflict that already had claimed more than 220,000 lives and displaced more than five million people.
Uribe has mobilised his party, the Centro Democratico, to collect signatures as part of its “civil resistance” campaign. On the other hand, President Santos has taken advantage of his presidential bully pulpit to talk about the benefits of peace. The Colombians have engaged in the fight, a clear sign of Colombia’s vibrant democracy.
President Santos himself has had low approval ratings in recent months, with his support falling to an all-time low in May. An August survey found that 65% of Colombians disapproved of his management of the peace process and that 76% of his countrymen did not back his management during the first two years of his second term in office. Dissatisfaction with Santos, the underperformance of the economy, and a vociferous “No” campaign have all helped push down public support for the deal in recent weeks.
Colombians are being influenced by the big opposition President Santos has from his successor Alvaro Uribe, the opinion about the peace process is being biased and we don’t know what decision will be shown at the ballot box the next October 2nd.
As a Colombian I am sure this won’t be the end of the war, there are more guerrillas in the country, but once the biggest one disappears and is incorporated to the society it may make the others follow its lead and cease the fire too.
The referendum is not about Alvaro Uribe or Juan Manuel Santos and the party each of them represents, is about the future of Colombia, is an opportunity for the country to start a new page in the history books. If the “YES” wins it will be the end of the biggest and longest conflict of the Americas, and Colombians will have the opportunity to build a better country for the future generations.
As well as Jose Maria Vera wrote in his blog
It is time to address the major issues facing Colombia. The usual ones. The distribution of land and its use, predatory resource extraction and the production model, the right to health and education for all, and the right to justice. In peace.
I think we had enough and is time to bet on the peace. I hope everyone in Colombia comes to the same conclusion. The enemies are giving us their hand and we have to take it and make peace with them. I hope the next Sunday, October 2nd will show the world that Colombians in a unified voice gave to their motherland a new life with a simple “YES”.
Explaining Colombia’s peace plebiscite (2016). Retrieved from: http://colombiapeace.org/2016/08/16/explaining-colombias-peace-plebiscite/
Santos v Uribe (2012). Retrieved grom: http://www.economist.com/node/21552204
Otis, John. (2012). In Colombia, the war between presidents. Retrieved from: http://world.time.com/2012/07/13/in-colombia-the-war-between-the-presidents/
Woddy, Christhoper (2016). Colombia has reached a historic deal to end a 52-year war, but the next battle will be at the ballot box. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/what-comes-next-for-colombia-farc-peace-deal-agreement-plebiscite-2016-8?r=US&IR=T
Vincent, Peter (2016) . The best deal for Colombia. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/29/opinion/the-best-deal-for-colombia.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FColombia&action=click&contentCollection=world®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection