Sunday, Oct. 2 was a day to remember for many Colombians, as the country held a national referendum that would decide a peace accord between the government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).
Colombia has been at war for over half a century with the FARC, a war that has killed over 220,000 people and left 8 million displaced. The opinion polls for the referendum predicted the “yes” vote would win by a thin margin but the opposite happened.
“Peace in Colombia is something society has been dreaming of for almost 50 years,” said Jennifer Ayala, junior. “But even though people wanted peace, the accord gave many doubts about how they were going to manage it.”
The results were a shock not only for Colombians, but also for the international community. The margin was close, as the “no” won by 50.2 percent and the “yes” ended with 49.8 percent.
“The result was a surprise for sure because it was against the odds,” said Gabriela Pearson, sophomore. “The government invested money and time in this accord and getting a result like this is shocking for them.”
President Juan Manuel Santos has been working on the accord and even staked his entire presidency on bringing an end to the conflict. Opponents of the accord, who are led by former president Alvaro Uribe, said that if the accord failed, both sides should return to the negotiating table.
“I am sure the country took the right decision,” said Ayala. “This peace accord should not be about giving the country to the people that have been causing so much pain over [a] half-century.”
“I am happy the ‘no’ won because the accord offered amnesty to the FARC members,” said Laura Garrido, junior. “These people have raped, killed and kidnapped millions of people so that is why I am not applauding something like this.”
The future of the accord is unclear as Juan Manuel Santos will send negotiators to Cuba to confer with the FARC leaders. Santos will also consult with the opposition in order to improve the accord. Both Santos and the FARC will have to work harder to find peace for the future of their country.
Photo courtesy of IndianExpress.com.