A stunning referendum defeat today for a peace deal to end Colombia’s 52-year war with FARC is not the end of the peace process, insisted President Juan Manuel Santos, who says he fully intends to continue pursuing different avenues toward a final resolution of the war throughout his time in office.
Polls had predicted a substantial win for the peace deal ahead of the vote, which narrowly lost, and Santos has already ordered his negotiators to return to Cuba to meet with the FARC leadership and discuss possible ways to save the deal.
FARC issued a statement saying they “deeply regret” the vote’s result, and accusing the opponents of the deal of sowing “hatred and revenge,” but did say they remain committed to the ceasefire and intend to continue to work toward a peace deal.
Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a major opponent of the referendum, has offered to “contribute” to the negotiations, saying he is ready to help make the “corrections” that would make the deal palatable to the public. Though Santos was formerly Uribe’s defense minister, the two are not on good terms, and it’s unclear if Uribe will be welcomed, even grudgingly, into the effort to salvage the pact.
Those against the peace deal primarily complained about the promises for legal immunity for the FARC rebels, claiming the government had given away too much. Given how many died over the more than half century of warfare, there is substantial distrust on all sides.