Yesterday, Colombia shocked the world by voting down a peace agreement four years in the making. For most of us who have followed the negotiations over the years, it wasn’t just heartbreaking, it was also genuinely baffling. How could anyone oppose peace? Well, the first point to make is that the country was clearly divided. As this map shows, regions most impacted by the war were most in favour of peace, while the least impacted regions were most supportive of continuing the bloodbath.
— Sally Hayden (@sallyhayd) 2 October 2016
Put simply, the divide was between Colombians who have shouldered the majority of the burden of the war, and those who barely notice it nowadays. While the former group was willing to accept a negotiated deal, the latter couldn’t stand the idea of a compromise with the FARC. After all, it isn’t really their blood on the line anyway. Champion of this no-compromise bloc was former far right president Alvaro Uribe, who also campaigned against the deal’s promise of limited immunity from prosecution for FARC militants accused of human rights abuses, in exchange for disarmament. Ironically, Uribe has no qualms about the limited immunity for disarmament deal he gave as president to members of the far right militias that not only fought against the FARC, but also ravaged much of Colombia with a scorched earth campaign that directly targeted civilians. In other words, the No voters believed it’s ok to negotiate with right wing terrorists, but not with the FARC.
Then came the media campaign, and right-wing fear mongers, who all claimed the peace deal was nothing more than a Cuban/Venezuelan/communist conspiracy. These people literally think the notion of peace is a nasty Marxist plot. Think I’m exaggerating? Well, prepare to lose faith in humanity!
Castro and FARC did their evil best but Colombian ppl voted NO to sweetheart deal for narcoterrorists that had no jail, no extradition.
— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) 2 October 2016
Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen led the charge on labelling the whole idea of peace as a terrible communist conspiracy. Damn communists, always trying to save lives and promote human rights.
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) October 3, 2016
Human Rights Watch head Kennoth Roth ponders whether peace would have really been worth it anyway. Perpetual war sure sounds like a win for human rights!
— Dayssi OlarteKanavos (@DayssiOK) 2 October 2016
Entrepreneur Dayssi OlarteKanavos seems to have a gripe with the deal’s conditions to allow the FARC its own political party, and run in fair elections. The whole idea behind that aspect of the deal was pretty simple: whether anyone likes it or not, the FARC actually do represent a sizeable chunk of Colombian society. The only question is whether they engage in politics on the battlefield, or at the ballot box. OlarteKanavos has presumably seen the overwhelming human cost of the former option, and decided it trumps peace. Slow. Clap.
— Lo_que_ESOS_Informan (@YoDesinformo) 2 October 2016
“The only peace agreement with terrorists.”
No negotiating with terrorists? Well, how’s that gone over the last half century? Over 218,000 dead, around 5 million refugees, countless lives ruined? Was all that really worth it, just so Colombia’s middle class can say, “We didn’t negotiate with terrorists?” Really?
¿Es mejor una guerra “digna” o una paz “indigna”? #ColombiadijoNO
— Andrés Beltramo A. (@sacroprofano) 2 October 2016
“Better a dignified war, or an undignified peace?” Uh, huh. The Colombian army has waged a “dignified” war? Tell me again, what was dignified about the army massacring innocent civilians, then dressing them as rebels to collect salary bonuses?
— Juanchon Mayor (@ChonMayor) 2 October 2016
“Hahaha! Shame on those who wanted to surrender the country to socialism!”
Yeah, take that, all you people who wanted an end to South America’s longest armed conflict!
Ganó la sensatez, gano Colombia 🇨🇴 #ColombiaDijoNo
— Beto Coba Caballero (@BetoCobaC) 2 October 2016
“Common sense won, Colombia won.”
You know what else is common sense? Everyone knows it’s totally wrong to claim that democracy involves peaceful negotiation and compromise with people you don’t necessarily like, but are part of society. Oh .. wait, no, that’s pretty much the textbook definition of democracy. Sorry about that.
Felicidades a Colombia por no rendirse frente al terrorismo como España. #ColombiaDecides
— Anarcho-capitalism (@SFLcervsntes) 3 October 2016
“Congratulations to Colombia to not surrendering to terrorism like Spain.”
Yay, AnCaps love state warfare!
As someone w Colombian family, im happy that the Colombian people rejected a deal that gives representation to terrorists #colombiadecides
— Andrew Moss (@DesertOsprey21) 2 October 2016
Yay, instead of democracy, Colombia gets more violence! Your family sure is better off, right?