Juan Manuel Santos harvested a resounding failure. Despite the misuse of state resources to promote themselves and the support of the vast majority of the media and the international community, including the Pope Francisco, half the country said ‘no’ to the peace process .
By only 50,000 votes difference , the ‘not’ beat against forecasts and surveys. All opinion polls without exception pointed to a victory for the Yes by a wide margin.However, the 50’24% of the twelve and a half million that went to the polls yesterday said no, compared with 49’75% that favored the government ‘s thesis.
The result is a blow to President Santos, who made the plebiscite their cause andchanged rules of the electoral game to win . He lowered the threshold to 13%, allowed public and senior officials involved in campaign, something that is forbidden, and the campaign began long before the National Electoral Council allowed it . He also had the support of business associations, renowned artists, athletes and other celebrities.
The ‘no’, however, only had the face of Alvaro Uribe and the Democratic Centre , which had opposed from the start to negotiations face to face between the government and the continent’s oldest terrorist group. The victory of his party not supposed to and figure a huge boost ahead of the 2018 presidential election.
“Will Timoshenko and his henchmen, including El Paisa , which Colombia hates?” He told this newspaper the conservative congressman Jaime Felipe Lozada . He was kidnapped by the FARC with his mother and brother, and his father was shot dead in an attack in which he was injured. “You have to renegotiate the agreements and the FARC will have to understand that the Colombian people do not accept impunity and political participation”.
Despite the setback of the polls, President Juan Manuel Santos has said that the bilateral and definitive cease fire with the FARC will continue. “The bilateral and definitive cease fire remains in force and shall remain in force , “ said the head of state in a brief address to the nation from the presidential palace, seat of government.
This newspaper , which attended the Tenth Conference of the FARC has been confirmed by various subversive controls that its decision was independent of the plebiscite , which had chosen to leave weapons to conquer their goals through politics. They have already taken many steps to demobilize and will not be easy to reverse.
“The plebiscite is binding on the president exclusively , according to the Constitutional Court said,” the analyst Jaime Castro, a constitutional expert.Legislatures may approve the amnesty law this week that will send the president to the FARC begin the process of dereliction of weapons to be completed in April.
Two factors may have influenced the result. Most Colombians, even supporters of the peace process, reject outright leaders of the FARC pass politics and do not step on one day in jail. And a mistake of the President, who failed to anticipate its strategy of dividing the country between friends and “enemies of peace” as branded opponents. The polls have said that a peace process requires broad political consensus.
“I will continue seeking peace” said by him
The adverse result of the plebiscite forced Santos to reach out to his opponents, who used to qualify as “enemies of peace” for criticizing the peace process. And he reassured the country to ensure that remains in force bilateral ceasefire it agreed with the FARC months ago.
“All without exception want peace. Tomorrow will call on all political forces and, in particular, to those expressed by the not to seek the way forward , “ said the President in a brief statement from Casa Nariño, broadcast live across the country, once discussed with his team the verdict of the polls. “I am the guarantor of the stability of the nation. It should not affect that stability.” I retain my powers to negotiate peace . The bilateral and definitive cease fire remains in force and shallremain in force. “
Santos announced that tomorrow will travel to Havana government negotiators to talk to the FARC . “We will decide among all which is the way we have to take so that we all want peace possible , “ he said. “I will continue seeking peace until the last minute of my term.”
His cousin, former vice president and one of his bitterest opponents, said the Democratic Center “humbly receives the result . What we want is to redirect the process.” For the only political party that advocated the “no”, the bottom line is that the guerrilla leadership passes jail, whether reduced sentences, and undertake not to make policy.
The FARC, meanwhile, claimed via Twitter that remain steadfast in their desire for peace. In the same vein the ELN, which will soon begin its own negotiating process said.
The result of the plebiscite obligates the government and its allied parties to look with new eyes the Democratic Center and those with reservations about concessions to the guerrillas and the arrogant attitude shown by the leaders of the FARC.
Santos’s speech shows that the peace process does not jump into the air but will have to seek political consensus with half of Colombia that does not reject some aspects of the agreements signed in Cuba.
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