The 2nd of October 2016 was a date that definitely impacted everyone, a date we will always remember for decades in Colombia. It was a day in which the nation went to the voting booth to decide whether or not to approve the implementation of the peace accords between the government and the FARC.
In general, the plebiscite polarized the nation even more. The high degree of misinformation was evident. The back and forth between campaigns by those for and against the deal showed the creativity that we have in discrediting the other side, even up to the point of falling in the trap of offending and/or eliminating the other for thinking differently.
However, like the Seeders have been talking about in their recent blogs, the issue is very complex. There are those that have suffered at the hands of the FARC and are still opting for peace by voting for the Yes, for reconciliation, for forgiveness, and for the construction and search of peace in Colombia. They want to feel free. At the same time, there are other victims that are speaking from their own painful stories, from the abandonment they feel from the State, are now are only receiving attention from the same State, telling them “You Must Forgive”. In some cases, these victims will have to open up space in their communities for the reintegration of ex-FARC members into civilian life. Even though these same people also opt for peace, they do not want to continue to be victimized and therefore voted No to the accords, viewing them as unjust response for the victims.
Myself, as a Colombian, have been an indirect victim of the armed conflict, being born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia’s capital. Here, power has remained centralized and each time decisions are made, especially ones that affect the rural areas, they are decided from the comfort of this city. Overall, in this process of dialogue and processes of ending the violence, my response has been Yes to the accords However, I have had to be intentional in listening and asking questions to people in Chocó, the Caribbean Coast, and the Middle Magdalena, about their lives and their reasons for supporting the Yes or No, and side by side I continue to understand how their lives have been directly impacted by the conflict.
In Colombia, after the No vote won on the 2nd of October, we were left with questions, uncertainty, and in some areas, with fear. However, on the other hand, people have not remained silent. Many have marched, others have camped out in the Plaza of Bolivar, saying that we will not conform ourselves to this reality, rather we will continue searching for peace.
Because we could simply not accept the No, it was necessary to sit down once more, include more people in the conversations, people whose position had been in support of the No. It was important to revise and rethink some of the points that had been agreed upon so that in the end everyone felt that they had been included in the accords. After weeks of conversations, on the 24th of November the new accords were signed and on the 29th of November, the congress approved them.
In this moment, we find ourselves waiting to see how the accords will be implemented and if the different sides comply with what has been signed. We wait to see how the processes of reintegration, forgiveness, and reparations of victims in rural areas will look like.
We invite you to accompany us and give follow-up to our peace accords in our hope to build a different Colombia.