On Colombia’s Referendum

A few weeks ago, the world was holding their breath that for once good news would be coming out of Colombia’s decades-long war. A peace deal was announced between the government and FARC, and while not the toughest deal many wanted, polling showed the plebiscite would pass, thus making the deal official. But in the second major referenda-related upheaval of the year, the deal was voted down.

What happens next? Post-vote analysis shows that the main two sticking points were the deal’s inclusion of near total amnesty versus stricter justice for past crimes, an unfortunately common problem across post-conflict countries. Another controversial point was the inclusion of the FARC in parliament without standing for election for two terms. In fact, the influence FARC would gain by these seats was likely overstated, as they would have very few representatives and would eventually have to stand for re-election. The revised deal proposed by the opposition is in fact not too different from the current deal, and the changes are mostly on these two points. How FARC responds to these revisions will likely set the tone for the whole process.

Other interesting facts to note about the vote, deal, and situation in general include the surprisingly low turnout for the vote, the differences in response between areas most and least affected by the decades of war, and the lack of communication by the government about why the deal looked the way it did.

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