Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos faced a severe blow, after the country failed to reach a cease-fire with the Colombian rebel group known as FARC. 50% of the country opposed the deal, while 49% favored it. The decision keeps the future of Colombia in shambles as it will continue to be destroyed by the rebel group.
Negotiations were held in Cuba, where negotiators worked with FARC leaders to form a possible peace deal. Santos believes this deal was the best chance the country to end a conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people and driven millions from their homes.
“I’ve always believed in a wise Chinese proverb — to look for opportunities in any situation. And here we have an opportunity that’s opening up, with the new political reality that has demonstrated itself in the referendum.”
The accord was signed by leaders of the Colombian government and the “FARC” The signing was witnessed by Secretary of State John Kerry and several other world leaders. A FARC leader at the negotiations told reporters that he was committed to reaching a deal with the Colombian government. Supporters of the deal said that ending the bloody nightmare was key and those who questioned the deal were “nitpicking” over details when they should have been celebrating.
The deal would have allowed FARC rebels to walk free and not serve prison time. They would be required to work in social programs. Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe criticized the deal, saying the government was appeasing FARC.
The FARC expressed hope after the results were announced, tweeting, “The love that we carry in our heart is huge and with our words and actions will be able to achieve peace.” The group’s leader, better known as Timochenko, said from Havana, “To the Colombian people that dream of peace, you can count on us.”
Questions remain on how the country will move forward. Under the deal, FARC fighters would have laid their weapons down and reenter society. FARC would have also received 10 seats in Congress. The accord would have halted the cocaine production that has fueled the violence caused by the FARC.
The FARC launched its guerrilla war on the government in 1964, after a peasant uprising that was crushed by the army. The ideological and territorial conflict drew in several leftist rebel groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs.