MEDELLÍN, Colombia — Thousands of Colombian citizens took to the streets Friday evening to voice their support for a peace agreement between the government and the country’s largest rebel group, which was narrowly rejected by voters in an October 2 plebiscite.
After 52 years of armed conflict, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a historic peace deal on September 26. The agreement was almost universally expected to gain public approval during the October 2 plebiscite vote, but a fierce campaign against the accord and low voter turnout resulted in a slim rejection of the deal.
The unexpected victory of the “No” campaign has generated a political crisis in Colombia. In recent days, President Juan Manuel Santos has convened talks with leaders of the “No” movement in order to hear their suggestions for how to revise the rejected accord, which they claim was too lenient on the FARC.
The outcome of these talks remains uncertain, but some experts say that a failure to renegotiate the agreement could result in a collapse of the four-year-old peace process and a return of the longest-running war in the Western Hemisphere.
In the midst of this polarized political atmosphere, students and victims’ organizations across the country have organized massive marches in support of President Santos’ efforts to hammer out a new agreement.