The big news last week, other than the silly antics of the two candidates, was the peace negotiations between the government of Colombia and the rebel faction called FARC……after about 50 years of death destruction and conflict there was a real chance at a peaceful conclusion of this violent chapter in Colombian history…..
But first a little background for those that are not familiar with the situation……
Colombia is in the midst of a half-century long conflict between the government and several guerrilla groups. The human impact of the conflict has been enormous, with at least 50,000 lives lost to date and one of the world’s largest populations of internally displaced people, many of whom have disappeared.
Despite being the oldest democracy in Latin America, Colombia has lacked national cohesion since its independence in 1810. As a result of the country’s three Andean mountain ranges – which act as natural barriers to integration – and the division of society by class interests, Colombia has historically suffered from a weak state with large areas of territory in which the government is unable to exercise effective control.
The activities of the guerrillas prompted the formation of right-wing paramilitary organisations, primarily the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, AUC), as a means of protecting landowners, drug lords and local businessmen from attacks and kidnappings by guerrilla forces. Whilst denied by the government, there are accusations of linkages between the paramilitaries and the state in waging war against the guerrillas. Since their inception, both guerrilla and paramilitary forces have become increasingly involved in criminal activity, including as kidnapping, extortion, bombings, murder, and hijacking, and have given a new dimension to the problem of narco-trafficking. The penetration of drug-trafficking in Colombian society has contributed to widespread corruption and the de-legitimisation of the political class.
All this may be old hat for some…so let me move on to the real news about this situation……I found an article about the vote…….
Voters rejected a peace deal with leftist rebels by a razor-thin margin in a national referendum Sunday, delivering a major setback to President Juan Manuel Santos, who vowed to keep a ceasefire in place and not give up his campaign to end a half-century of war, the AP reports. With more than 99% of polling stations reporting, 50.2% of ballots opposed the accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia while 49.8% favored it—a difference of less than 57,000 votes out of a total of 13 million. Pre-election polls had predicted the “yes” vote would win by an almost two-to-one margin.
“I won’t give up. I’ll continue to search for peace until the last moment of my mandate,” Santos said in a televised address recognizing his defeat. He ordered his negotiators to return to Cuba on Monday to consult with FARC leaders who were awaiting results on the communist island. He also promised to listen to opponents in a bid to save—and strengthen the deal, which he said is Colombia’s best chance for ending a conflict that has killed 220,000 people and driven almost 8 million people from their homes. Opponents, led by influential former President Alvaro Uribe, argued that the government was appeasing the rebels and setting a bad example that criminal gangs would seize on.
This is amazing to me since the people have endured 50 years of conflict and death why would they vote against their own best interests?
To answer my question I found text of the agreement and searched for something that would turn the people against the deal…..
We have agreed:
I.To initiate direct and uninterrupted conversations about the points of the agenda established here, with the end of reaching a Final Agreement for the termination of the conflict that will contribute to stable and lasting peace.
II. To establish a table of conversation that will be installed publicly (a month after the public announcement) in Oslo, Norway, and whose principal headquarters will be Havana, Cuba. The table could have meetings in other countries.
III. To guarantee the effectiveness of the process and conclude the work about the points of the agenda expeditiously and in the least amount of time possible, to fulfill the expectations of society concerning the agreement. In any case, the duration will be subject to periodic evaluations of progress.
IV. To develop the conversations with the support of the governments of Cuba and Norway as guarantors and the governments of Venezuela and Chile as accompaniment. In accordance with the necessities of the process, they may by agreement invite others.
Source: Text of deal between with FARC to end Colombia armed conflict
I cannot see that should be objectionable to the people…..(you check it out and see what you think)…..all I can think is that there is a spin doctor at work, like all democracies, that worked hard to turn the voter against the deal.
I can understand the voter voting against their own best interests…..the people of my state have been doing it for decades……but this vote could mean life or death if it fails……I would say the consequences should wake the voter up.