Hope floats in Colombia

Updated - November 17, 2021 06:12 am IST

Published - November 15, 2016 01:46 am IST

The >fresh peace deal announced by Bogota and the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) may look no less fragile than the previous accord that Colombians rejected in a referendum in October. But signs that the gathering economic momentum depends on lasting reconciliation could trump other outstanding concerns. The current endeavour to secure peace has been four years and more in the making. It involved political heavyweights in Latin America and beyond, whose influence should make a reversal of recent gains especially difficult. >The Nobel Peace Prize , awarded days after the referendum reversal, has enhanced the stature of President Juan Manuel Santos as a relentless crusader for peace in the midst of formidable if not insurmountable hurdles. But it is not inconceivable that having had the earlier accord rejected in a vote, the risks of a repeat referendum, or alternatively the moral and political deficit likely to arise from dispensing with one in this instance, will cast a shadow over the current effort. Foremost is the question whether the leaders of the FARC should be allowed to participate in the political process. President Santos has defended the retention of the provision in the revised deal, arguing that the promise of a legitimate route to politics for rebel groups has been the hallmark of any peace process the world over. Those opposed to the deal contend that according political eligibility to criminals who have not been brought to justice amounts to a violation of the rule of law.

In fact, the popular perception that the government was seeking to reward top FARC leaders with public office had decisively tilted voter sentiment against the deal in the October vote. The mere provision to obtain an inventory of the assets of rebels, with a view to compensate victims, or to elicit disclosures on the drug mafia, may not be enough to placate the people. Former President Alvaro Uribe, who spearheaded the No campaign, has yet to pronounce on the new agreement. But Mr. Santos and Mr. Uribe, erstwhile allies, must be acutely sensitive to the economic implications of continued political instability, in their search for a reasonable compromise. The commodities downturn has hit Colombia’s economy hard, and the government has already scaled down expectations of a boost to the tourism and agriculture sectors from the peace accord. Yet, the President’s proactive engagement with the international community to attract investment, and Washington’s backing for the peace accord, hold out the promise of a return to prosperity. A peace deal would help win over investors.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.