On July 18, Colombia’s Constitutional Court approved the government’s plans to hold a plebiscite on a full peace deal with leftist rebels, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
This is another major victory for the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, who signed a ceasefire agreement with FARC on June 23 in Havana.
(Soundbite) Antonio Caballero, Colombian Political Analyst
“I feel that, finally and after many attempts, this final attempt is putting an end to the armed conflict with the FARC guerrillas. This is not the only armed conflict in Colombia, obviously, but it is very important. It is the first time this has happened with a guerrilla group as important as the FARC, as there has been peace with smaller guerrilla groups 20 to 25 years ago. However, once the armed conflict is over, achieving peace is another matter. We must begin to construct this peace, and return to a peaceful life that the country has not known for many years.”
The ceasefire agreement, as well as the full peace accord widely expected later in July, are to end five decades of civil war of Colombia and the largest and longest armed conflict in Latin America.
(Soundbite) Alirio Uribe, Colombian Chamber Deputy
“Right now, the peace process with the FARC is in the second phase, the negotiation phase. Next comes the implementation phase. In September or October, we will put this agreement to a popular consultation, so that Colombians may vote “Yes” for peace. … We have already concluded the confidential phase of setting the agenda and we will soon begin the second phase, the negotiations. This is a very important moment for Colombia.”
The full peace accord was scheduled for signing on July 20, but overshadowed by recent disputes within FARC. Both the government and the FARC have determinedly brushed aisde the noise.
(Soundbite) Yolanda Reyes, Colombian Citizen
“In a peace process with a guerrilla group, which has so many fronts across the country, the advantages of peace must be strongly reinforced. I believe the FARC must work on this with all its fronts, this is a new situation for them too. They must encourage new ways of life, which do not rely on conflict but on dialogue. They must show the road to understanding of the other in order to reach consensus and agreement that will lead to a more stable, fairer and more beautiful society, which Colombia needs and deserves.”