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Opinion

Opinion: Goodbye peace in Colombia

Unbelievable but true: in the Colombia referendum, a majority has voted against the FARC peace treaty. It's a tragic decision because the opportunity for peace will not come again, says DW's Astrid Prange.

It's a shock. Colombia has stepped back from its courageous stance. With a razor-thin majority, opponents of the peace treaty gained the day on Sunday. The dream of peace is shattered. The hope that the country could exit the cycle of violence has faded.

A week ago, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed the peace treaty in the presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Over four long years, the path to peace was negotiated and set down in the smallest detail over 297 pages in the treaty. After 52 years of civil war, the foundations for peace should have been in place.

And now? Will President Santos resign? Will the guerrillas go back to their weapons? Or will the fighters be hired by the drug cartels? Will the war go on endlessly?

Astrid Prange

DW's Astrid Prange reports on Latin America

An unannounced tragedy

One thing is certain: after the referendum vote, the peace treaty is worthless. The result is therefore a painful defeat for people who yearn for peace. It is a slap in the face for the victims who were willing to forgive. It is also disillusionment for all FARC fighters who were willing to disarm.

The "No" to the peace treaty is a tragedy. Once more, revenge is stronger than forgiveness, hate is stronger than reconciliation and war is more powerful than peace. The whole world has been waiting for a sign that violence and destruction can be overcome, that it is worth fighting for peace!

Peace in Colombia was within reach: the FARC wanted it and was prepared to give up their arms to their biggest enemy, the Colombian military. They were prepared to give up their arms without reaching their political objectives and while putting the communist revolution to one side. They were committed to investigating war crimes and asking their victims for forgiveness.

Revenge on the rebels

But all this was not enough for the opponents to the peace treaty, those around former President Alvaro Uribe. They wanted to see the FARC fighters in chains. The idea of sitting with former guerrillas in parliament seemed to be too much of an unreasonable demand for them. The provision that prison sentences would only be given to rebels who admitted to crimes either too late, or never, seemed to be unbearable for them.

Yet in truth, their allegations are insupportable. Colombia was not "delivered" to the FARC with the adoption of the peace treaty. No, Colombia does not fall prey to communism or socialism; not all property owners would have their land expropriated. No, not all FARC fighters would go unpunished as they enjoyed their new lives while victims "get nothing."

Insupportable as well is the fact that the majority of Colombian voters has fallen for this scaremongering. October 2 will therefore go down as one of the saddest days in the history of Colombia. The war goes on. It produces its dead and overwhelms its opponents.

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