'Unspeakably Sad': Colombia Voters Narrowly Reject Landmark Peace Deal

The question posed to the population was: "Do you support the final accord for the end of the conflict and the construction of stable and lasting peace?" (Photo: AFP)

'Unspeakably Sad': Colombia Voters Narrowly Reject Landmark Peace Deal

The areas most affected by the conflict overwhelmingly voted "Yes" for peace

In an outcome described as "shocking," "painful," and "unspeakably sad," Colombian voters on Sunday rejected a landmark peace deal that would have ended a deadly 52-year war between the government and FARC guerillas.

Turnout was reportedly low, and the win was narrow, with the "No" vote leading by less than one percentage point, 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent.

"Today will be remembered by history as the moment Colombia turned its back on what could have been the end of a war that for more than 50 years devastated millions of lives," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director for rights group Amnesty International. "Even though it was imperfect, the accord was a sure path to peace and justice."

According to TeleSUR:

The surprising results--which went against all exit polls that had the "Yes" vote winning easily--are showing that the areas most affected by the conflict have overwhelmingly voted "Yes" for peace. For example in the heavily affected area of Choco, with 95 percent of the vote counted, 79 percent voted "Yes." The Caribbean provinces have also voted "Yes."

In the capital of Bogota, the "Yes" vote won by 56 percent to 44 percent for the "No" vote.

[...] The "No" vote was led by former president Alvaro Uribe and big landowners who have run the country with impunity for decades. The fear-mongering campaign launched by these forces, with the support of right-wing media, proved too much for the forces for peace.

On Twitter, journalist and commentator Vijay Prashad also made note of the geographic breakdown:


Likened to the fallout from the United Kingdom's "Brexit" referendum, the vote's unexpected failure has left the Colombian political classes reeling and unsure how to respond in order to save four years of hard negotiation with the Marxist militia.

Indeed, Reutersquoted one "No" voter who said: "We never thought this could happen. Now I just hope the government, the opposition, and the FARC come up with something intelligent that includes us all."

The BBC reported that "Most of those who voted 'no' said they thought the peace agreement was letting the rebels 'get away with murder'."

But others said that a campaign of fear won the day:

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, "[p]utting on a brave face after a major political defeat," as Reuters put it, said Monday that he "won't give up." He sent government negotiators back to Cuba on Monday morning to meet with FARC leaders, and "said he would meet with Colombia's opposition, led by former president and senator Alvaro Uribe, a mortal enemy of the FARC who has gained powerful new leverage over any potential attempt to rewrite the peace deal," the Washington Postreported.

FARC leader Rodrigo Londono (known as "Timochenko") also reiterated a commitment to peace, saying on Sunday: "The FARC reiterates its disposition to use only words as a weapon to build toward the future. To the Colombian people who dream of peace, count on us, peace will triumph."

Both sides said the historic ceasefire, reached in June, would remain in place.

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