Colombian referendum. The people say “no” to peace

Colombian referendum

So last week I went to a talk at Canning House on the, then, upcoming Colombian peace referendum. For those of you living in London, and looking to immerse yourself in Spanish-Latino culture, I implore you to get involved! Situated on Belgrave Square, it is the cultural, political and social hub of all things Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese. It holds informed debates, contacts and comments on Latin American politics, economy and business. It’s super easy to get involved!

A quick recap for readers unfamiliar with Colombian current events: the referendum followed the historic breakthrough of the peace accord signed between the FARC rebels and the Colombian government after more than 60 years of violence. On Sunday the people of Colombia were asked to vote whether or not to support the peace deal – ¿Apoya usted el Acuerdo Final para la Terminación del conflicto y la Constitucción de una Paz Estable y Duradera? Many were surprised when the final vote came to 50.2% No, and 49.8% Yes, thus resulting in a narrow rejection of the peace deal.

Who in their right mind would vote “no” to peace you might think?

However, the Colombian people voting “no”, were in disagreement with the agreements and deals made within the peace accord, rather than to peace itself. Leading the discussion were a couple of heavy hitters; Juan David Gutierrez, former advisor to the Colombian Minister of Justice, and Vanessa Buschschluter (have a go at pronouncing that one!), Latin American and Caribbean Editor for BBC News Online. Gutierrez and Buschschluter implied that the referendum would most likely end in an acceptance of the FARC peace deal. However, it was made clear that reconciliation and forgiveness of FARC rebels, a main aspect of the agreement, would not be accepted by many Colombians. If the deal went ahead many FARC guerrillas, guilty of war crimes, would escape jail and be given demobilisation and rehabilitation support. The government would pay them a monthly stipend in return for all FARC guerrillas laying down their weapons for good. It is therefore perhaps not too surprising why the majority voted “no” to these agreements. For many, letting these rebels ‘get away’ with murder with little consequences, and financial help to start over, was one step too far.

Yet, it is still a pity that four years of discussions and peace negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government can, now, no longer be implemented. With no action plan in place for if this peace deal resulted in the rejection that it did, who knows what the future will be for Colombia.

If you want a bit more info check out this great discussion en español:

There are a couple of great events coming up, the highlight of which will be the talk on the American elections and their affect on Latin America, so stay tuned!

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