On October 2, 2016, Colombia had a national referendum (Plebiscite) in which its citizens were to accept or reject the peace accords between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government. As elections were concluded that day, many of us were surprised by the results of the referendum in which a slight “majority” of the population rejected the peace accords with a resounding “No” vote.
However, as Colombians continued to reflect on the “No” result, and as a Mennonite Central Committee’s Seeder accompanying community transformation processes here in Chocó, Colombia, I have been wondering how the victims of armed groups, have processed the “No” outcome of the plebiscite.
I have asked one of the victims here in Chocó, to understand her thoughts on the No vote – and what it meant to her as someone who lost her family member to the armed groups in the region. As some of you are aware, the original peace accords (that were rejected) have been revised recently in order to include some of the demands of the people who voted no in October. I used the following questions to guide our dialogue during the interview:
1. As a victim of the armed groups, what are your thoughts on the “No” results of the plebiscite on October 2, 2016?
2. Now that government has been able to approve the peace accords through congress, what are your thoughts or reactions on that decision?
In the following video, Ms. Isabel (name changed for safety reasons) shares her thoughts with us in Spanish but we have subtitles to help with translation. I have specifically used dark visuals in the video to hide the identity of Ms. Isabel.
Written response below.
As a victim of the armed groups, what are your thoughts on the “No” results of the plebiscite on October 2, 2016?
As a victim of the armed conflict, the result of the plebiscite was disappointing, because my expectation was that we take advantage of this situation and support our president in his desire for peace in Colombia. If we want our children and grandchildren and all future generations to live in peace, we, (ourselves) today, must contribute to the attainment of peace.
Now that government has been able to approve the peace accords through congress, what are your thoughts or reactions on that decision?
I particularly support the position of the president’s congress and all of them who are part of this process … laughing … yes because we have already lived more than 50 years of violence and it is fair that there is a cessation of this form of life we have had. There has been much bloodshed, many home left with orphans, widows. Therefore I support the congress, the president and all those who are part of the peace process.
Final Reflections: What has been overwhelmingly beautiful to me is that many people from regions that were heavily affected by the armed groups across Colombia, had voted yes to accept the agreements. An indication that many of them like Isabel were and still ready to move past their pain and plant seeds of peace (such as voting yes in the plebiscite) in their country.