News - October 27, 2016

Meanwhile in.... Colombia

Text:
Carina Nieuwenweg

In a referendum at the beginning of October, the people of Colombia rejected the hard-won peace agreement between the government and the guerrilla movement FARC. President Juan Manuel Santos nevertheless won the Nobel Peace Prize a few days later for his efforts to achieve the agreement. Now FARC and the government are around the negotiating table again.

Sindy Suan, Master’s student of Molecular life sciences, comments on the news from her country.

‘The FARC is a guerrilla movement which has been fighting against the government for fifty years. They did not agree with the government’s policies and decided to go to war. What they actually want is an improvement in the living and working conditions, education and rights of the working class. FARC prefer socialism over capitalism and for that they believe a revolution is necessary. They started with strikes and protests. The government responded with military force. The FARC movement expanded so they needed money and over the years they lost sight of their main ideals and started to engage in illegal activities like kidnapping and drug business to pay for their war.

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Four years ago our president Juan Manual Santos started to negotiate with the leaders of FARC to end this war. An agreement was signed in September and on 2 October Colombian citizens could vote on the agreement. Unfortunately, some groups and one specific political party did not agree and the outcome of the voting was a “no”. The president is collecting new ideas in order to come up with a new agreement.

As a Colombian I am worried about the situation. It makes me feel uncertain. It took four years to come to an agreement and now they have to continue the debate. It is sad for the people who live in small towns close to the jungle and FARC encampments because they have been very close to the war. People get kidnapped because they have sons in the military or because the family has a lot of money. Many people hoped this agreement would end the war. Sadly more time and debate is needed.’