Today, for the second time so far this fall, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos joined a stage with leftist guerrilla leader “Timochenko” to officially sign a peace accord that will end more than a half-century of war.
The last agreement between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was signed on September 26 and put to a referendum on October 2. But Colombians — by a mere 53,000 votes — rejected the deal at the ballot box.
This time, Santos — who has staked his political career on forging a final, lasting peace with FARC — will send the agreement to Congress for ratification and skip the public vote. Since the new deal was announced 11 days ago, and in his public comments today while formally signing the deal at Teatro Colón in Bogotá’s historic La Candelaria district, the president has stressed the need to ratify it quickly. It is expected to be discussed in the Senate beginning next week.
Santos still faces strong opposition, however. His chief political rival, current senator and former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, remains highly critical. The revised deal includes amendments to 56 of its 57 provisions that were negotiated over 40 days in Havana. But the changes were not significant enough to appease everyone.
Uribe, who is the face of the so-called “No” movement who led the campaign to vote against the original accord, are now calling for “civil resistance” from the political sector including “denunciations in the media and ‘disobedience’ in areas where possible,” according to Colombia Reports.
Santos and his chief negotiator Humberto De la Calle have stressed that the revised deal is the best they can get from the the FARC leaders. “This new accord possibly won’t satisfy everybody, but that’s what happens in peace accords,” said Santos
Santos won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize — even after his first accord was voted down — and will be given the honor formally in a December 10 ceremony. Expecting Congress to act before that date may be ambitious, but the government is confident that it will get ratification through the legislature even amid ongoing opposition. Between the president’s party and others that are generally aligned with his administration, they hold a slight majority in the Senate and a large majority in the House of Representatives.