By Julia Vargas Mondragon
One day after the plebiscite everyone is questioning the unexpected results of a country that seems to be saying “no” to peace. Here is why many Colombians voted “no” to the peace negotiations between the government and the FARC:
- Justice and Impunity: The accord’s points on transitional justice appeared to be too forgiving argued Jose Miguel Vivanco, Chair of Human Rights Watch, a critical voice from the beginning of negotiations in Cuba. “To begin with, the government should amend the agreement to ensure that commanders accountable for crimes committed by their subordinates, and should also correct the many ambiguities” said Vivanco in a statement. Many Colombians feared that signing off that deal would mean that the leaders responsible for atrocities in the more than 50 year conflict could possibly be eligible to run for congress, the senate and hold hire offices. As a neighboring country, Venezuela serves as a point of reference of what Colombia could have become if the agreement was embraced.
- “Peace” as a brainwash: The referendums question was: “Do you support the final agreement to end conflict and construct a stable and enduring peace?.” Imagine saying “no” to this. It’s obviously not easy, because who doesn’t want peace? The question was not well phrased, and the whole campaign led by the government and FARC was not well phrased either. They made it seem that checking the “yes” box would automatically solve all of the countries issues. Besides, the word peace is complicated, especially for people that have lived in a country where war seems to be the norm. And the “yes” campaign played with the word to guilt people into voting for an accord that does not guarantee peace. Why? Because there are other armed groups in the country, and bloodshed has extended far more than only the FARC and the government.
- A history of victimized people versus a rushed agreement: The armed conflict in Colombia has lasted over 50 years and have resulted in 930,000 deaths, 6 million people internally displaced, 37,000 victims of kidnappings, and 80,000 direct victims of terrorist attacks. Everyone has a friend or relative that has been affected by the armed conflict some way or another. It has been over 50 years of very complicated bloodshed between various armed groups that clearly cannot be resolved in less than 4 years of negotiations. Many believe that Santos is in it for a Nobel Peace Prize, rushing into the negotiations to have them finalize before his term ends. Whether that is true or not, the agreement could have been better, and by rushing it, he blew it.
- Trust, Brexit: In 2016 we are seeing the backlash of politically disenfranchised people, as clearly shown with Brexit. The sentiment where people feel like they have given too much and they have not received justice or truth. As a phenomenon occurring at this point in history, this definitely applies in the case of Colombia; where many feel like it’s not only not fair to have impunity for war crimes against humanity, but that it is not fair either to not be guaranteed peace if the “yes” had won.
Colombians DO want peace, just not at the expense of justice, impunity and trust. It is the perfect example that peace is not easy and it’s certainly not for free.
Julia Vargas Mondragon is a contributor to Latino Giant. Graduated from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Civic affairs with a double major in Geography and International Relations. Julia is interested in topics such as media and politics, looking forward to have a career in journalism. Follow her on Twitter @juliavmondragon