On Thursday 24 November, the Colombian government signed a historic peace deal with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). This follows the referendum on October 2nd, when the Colombian people narrowly voted against the proposed peace deal. The new deal contains changes that have been made in an attempt to satisfy those who voted ‘No’.
The deal has been signed with the aim to end a brutal and messy civil war which has gripped Colombia for over fifty years; a war which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens, most of whom were civilians. Everyone hopes that this deal will be enough to bring peace to a country whose political structures have been defined by war and corruption for decades.
But there are many hurdles still yet to overcome. For one, FARC is not the only guerrilla group in Colombia that challenges state power, and groups such as the ELN (National Liberation Army) have only very recently been brought to the negotiating table. Furthermore, despite the changes, many ‘No’ voters are still unhappy with the deal, including the leader of the ‘No’ campaign Alvaro Uribe. This reflects the deep divides that still exist in the country surrounding the peace process, further signified by the government’s decision not to risk putting the new deal to plebiscite.
The peace process is complex, has drawn division lines across the country and been the site for scandal and personal ambition. But it has also brought people together like never before, making them realise their strength as participants of democracy and encouraging them to take a part in difficult conversations.
In this short blog series, we will explore this historic moment in Colombia from various angles and perspectives. Our first blog will provide an insight into the democratic and political participation of a group of Colombian citizens who set up a peace camp in protest to the results of the referendum. The second blog will analyse some of the power politics in Colombia, and look at how the referendum of October 2nd brought these to light.
Why did people vote against the original deal? Who are the winners and losers from the peace agreement? What does ‘peace’ look like for Colombia? We hope this series will shed some light on such a significant period in Colombian history, as it unfolds before our eyes.