Colombia has seen civil war and conflict for more than fifty years now. In fact, the majority of Colombians never known a time when there wasn’t a war being fought. Authorities have counted about 220,000 casualties. Fighters have raped numerous women and forced children to fight in battles.

At last, change seemed imminent. President Santos had managed to make a land-breaking peace deal with the FARC rebels. In exchange for the rebels agreeing to turn in their weapons to UN peacekeepers and returning to lives as ordinary Colombian citizens, their leaders would receive reduced sentences. Many considered it a major peace making advancement and President Santos was put in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, the peace agreement was not to be as after a national vote on Sunday, the majority turned out being against the peace agreement.Voters were asked the simple question “do you support the final agreement to end the conflict and construct a stable and enduring peace?” By a majority of less than one percent, the agreement was voted out.

The reason for the opposition to the peace deal? Most felt that the deal was not stringent enough against the rebels and did not trust their return to normal lives as citizens. They especially did not want rebels to be able to hold government positions.

Now President Santos will return to the rebels and try to make another deal that the Colombian people will agree to. It is not yet known if the rebels will be willing to agree to this.

While I understand that the people who voted against the peace deal have real concerns–they’ve dealt with fear for a long time, they’ve lost friends and family members and they really have been hurt –I still feel like the loss for the peace deal was a major missed opportunity. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but any deal that would make peace in this civil war was going to require sacrifice from both sides. Would it not be worth it to end the killing? After fifty years of war, this was an opportunity to make things better. I hope that a new peace deal will be agreed to soon.

Read more in this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/03/world/colombia-peace-deal-defeat.html?_r=0

Advertisements