Opinion: Nobel Peace Prize for Colombian President Santos is a challenge | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 07.10.2016
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Peace process

Opinion: Nobel Peace Prize for Colombian President Santos is a challenge

The Nobel Peace Prize is a major acknowledgment for all those who are taking to the streets in Colombia and elsewhere to demand the peace called for in the country's constitution, says José Ospina-Valencia.

The victims of violence in Colombia have never been paid as much respect as they have today. Millions of Colombians regard the barbaric violence that grips their country as the most normal thing in the world, even as they claim to live in the happiest country on earth.

The Nobel Peace Prize goes to a man that reached out his hand to the Colombian people. President Juan Manuel Santos sought out people in their villages, in the slums, in the cities and on the street. In the places and neighborhoods where they try to earn their livelihood and are brushed away like flies.

The Nobel Peace Prize is also going to a person that is attempting to use a peace treaty to give "unwanted persons" their land back, so that they can return and live dignified lives. So that they can produce food for those that have been pushed to the fringes of society for over fifty years. The indifference that many feel towards these people was evident in the meagre 63 percent voter participation rate of the recent referendum.

Peace as constitutional task

The prize also goes to the 260,000 victims of Colombia's civil war: victims of FARC, the Colombian army and other paramilitary groups. Until now, no one had seriously risked implementing the constitution. The fight for peace is anchored in the document - not war.

Jose Ospina-Valencia (DW)

DW's Jose Ospina-Valencia

President Santos, who himself comes from the centers of power, knew that he would be labeled a "traitor" if he began a peace process. Betray peace? Yes, in Colombia, where peace is a luxury and war happens in the villages and the countryside, it is indeed possible.

Ultimately, those with the means to put money into the military's coffers are always able to avoid sacrificing their lives and the lives of loved ones as "soldiers of the fatherland." All the rest die or are maimed by war. That is also one of the reasons that the peace treaty was signed but then voted down in the referendum.

Peace under threat

President Santos received the award not because he achieved peace, but because he has doggedly pursued it. The peace he has attained is now hanging by a thread. The same forces that called for a "No" vote in the referendum, using malicious ploys rather than real arguments, are the same forces trying to hinder peace by any means necessary right now. Their loud slogans regarding the peace treaty expose them for what they really are.

Santos won the prize, but peace is under threat. Therefore the prize is also a sign of support for all those Colombians that are now taking to the streets to demand what their country has earned: The chance to become a civilized land. It would have been a dream if FARC had taken the opportunity to put down its weapons as had been planned. Instead, they have retreated back to their traditional jungle quarters with guns in hand, even though they are abiding by the ceasefire.

Colombia needs the support of the international community now more than ever. Millions of Colombians are hoping for that support in this moment with peace so desperately under threat. Why is it that so many people are scared of international "interference" when it comes to peace, and so few when it comes to war? Bravo, Oslo!

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