The peace agreement in Colombia may mark the end of the hemisphere’s longest running civil war. Let’s face it: being witness to an historical moment like this is exciting, even if there are difficulties ahead.
Through a series of deft maneuvers, President Santos has helped ensure the acceptance and implementation of the peace accord, while still upholding Colombia’s constitution and respecting the will of its people. It’s driving the opposition nuts.
This Thursday, Colombians had much to celebrate. In the presence of world leaders President Santos signed a cease-fire with the FARC, a day after Colombia played in the Copa America semi-finals. Though it lost, the games reminded Colombians how far they had come from the World Cup of 22 years ago.
Colombia’s remaining guerrilla group, the ELN, is finally coming to the negotiating table. But the government is in a very different negotiating position with the ELN than with FARC, a point reflected in the vague, poorly worded negotiation agreement announced March 30th.
Conversations with Colombian security officials reveal concerns that Colombia’s peace agreement, if approved and implemented, may in the short term lead to greater violence, as former FARC members defect to the ELN and join in criminal and violent activities. How should Colombia, the U.S, and the EU prepare?
War and peace in Colombia and Mexico provide the key themes on Latin Pulse this week. The program updates the status of the long-running peace talks in the 51-year-old civil war in Colombia. This discussion includes fears that different rebel groups will supplant the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (the FARC). The program also analyzes the problems of human rights and corruption in Mexico as that country tries to successfully prosecute its part in the Drug War.
The peace deal with the FARC is not an automatic remedy for the consequences and collateral damage of Colombia’s violent past, but failure to approve it in the popular referendum would be disastrous to the country.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is not the only president to have wagered his legacy on the possibility of peace. But securing both his legacy and peace will require avoiding the mistakes of past negotiations.
As the deadline looms, the logistics of the ceasefire in Colombia remain controversial. If the parties are committed to ending hostilities before the March 2016 deadline, their negotiators in Havana must agree on a ceasefire model before the end of the year.