The shocking result of the October 2 peace referendum should not be equated with a rejection of peace by the Colombian people. Since polls report that an overwhelming majority of Colombians want peace, the result of the plebsicite must be interpreted as a rejection of the terms negotiated by the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The most controversial issues involved the guaranteed political representation in Congress for the FARC and lenient consequences for rebel soldiers for their crimes. In rejecting the peace accord, Colombians expressed their opposition to favourable treatment for the FARC. Since most people believe that the “No” vote will only delay, but not derail, the peace process, the vote on Sunday is more of a setback for President Santos and the FARC than a rebuff for peace.
After taking office in 2010, Santos embraced in a difficult and controversial path toward an end-of-conflict negotiation with te FARC guerrillas. After having served as Minister of Defence in the hawkish Álvaro Uribe administration (2002-2010), Santos made a surprising but reasonable transition and became a dove. In his logic, winning peace was a more difficult challenge than winning the war. In order to secure a stable and long lasting peace, Santos wanted to bring the FARC to the negotiating table.
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