An End to Armed Warfare
Midnight on August 29 marked the beginning of the end for a war that's raged for more than half a century between the Colombian state and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla movement.
With a consensus on both sides, after four years at the negotiating table on neutral ground in Havana, Colombia finally has a definitive bilateral ceasefire. This momentous occasion came after the historic “last day of the war,” as the government is calling it, on August 23, and a formal presentation of the final agreement on August 24.
On his Instagram account, Colombia's president asked, “How does it feel now to hear us say #AdiósALaGuerra [#GoodbyeToTheWar]?” The question was accompanied by an image that included a quote modeled on García Márquez‘ famous last line of One Hundred Years of Solitude: “And that everything written on the peace process was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to fifty years of war could have a second opportunity on earth.”
Reflecting on the moment in history, Facebook user Juan Mosquera wrote:
Esta noche es la última noche de la más horrible historia que no es historia sino tragedia. Esta será la noche más tranquila en décadas y décadas y décadas. El campo, las selvas, los valles que tienen a la luna por única luz, las montañas en las que la naturaleza respira. Allí, donde el campesino despierta cada día de su vida, allí donde los indígenas encuentran hermanos y no discriminación.(…) Es una hora trascendental para todos, estemos donde estemos.
Tonight is the last night of a most terrible story that is not a story, but a tragedy. Tonight will be the calmest night in decades and decades and decades. The countryside, the jungle, and the valleys will have only the moon for light, and the mountains in which nature breathes. There, where the farmers wake every day of their lives, there were the indigenous find themselves among brothers and not discrimination. […] It's a transcending moment for everyone, wherever we are.
The Peace Treaty Is Just the Beginning
The government has decided to hold a referendum on the agreement it signed with FARC. Next month, on October 2, the nation will vote on the 297-page final agreement.
Twitter user Andrés Charry is in favor of the peace deal:
¡La Paz si es contigo pero empieza Por Mi!
— Andres Charry (@charry_manager) August 29, 2016
Peace is with you but starts with me! What a great step for peace presented to the country today on the day of the #CeseAlFuegoDefinitivo [Definitive Ceasefire]?
Tymothy Gómez argued that a no vote is particularly revealing:
— Tymothy Gómez (@tymothygo) August 29, 2016
Meanwhile Dara-San shared a similar sentiment:
Hay que saberse que, la mayoría que dicen “#VotoNo” son gente que no sabe qué es el dolor de la guerra, digo, son de ciudad y uribistas.
— Dara – San (@ElGatodePessoa) August 29, 2016
Know that the majority who say “#VotoNo” [Vote No] are those who don't know what the pain caused by the war is, in other words, those from the cities and uribistas [followers of former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, who leads those against the peace treaty]
On Facebook, Soy Colombiano (“I am Colombian”) wrote:
Prefiero equivocarme apoyando la paz, que acertar impulsando la guerra.
I'd prefer to be wrong supporting peace, than be right encouraging the war.
Twitter user Gustavo Bolívar declared:
— Gustavo Bolívar (@GustavoBolivar) August 28, 2016
#SoyDefensorDeLaPaz [I'm a Defender of Peace] because Colombia spends more money on weapons than on education and I want this travesty reversed.
Despierta Colombia (“Wake up Colombia”), on the other hand, displayed its reasons for opposing the peace agreement:
— #DespiertaColombia (@DespiertaCo) August 18, 2016
Adding a touch of humor to the discussion, Daniela Huertas suggested that people should be allowed to default on their student loans, if FARC can be pardoned.
— Una Puta Culta. (@DanielaHuertasB) August 28, 2016
They should also pardon the debt some of us have with icetex #SoyDefensorDeLaPaz [I'm a Defender of Peace]
And finally, Félix de Bedout posted:
No hay paz perfecta, pero tampoco conozco guerra que lo sea. Después de 52 años de guerra, ¿no valdrá la pena intentar algo diferente?
— Felix de Bedout (@fdbedout) August 25, 2016
There's no such thing as perfect peace, but neither do I know what kind of war it really is. After 52 years of war, is it not worth the effort of trying something different?
Reconciliation and Forgiveness
Social media and the country's mainstream news media have revealed that Colombian society is polarized when it comes to opinions about the peace agreement with FARC. The biggest challenges seem to be finding the willingness to forgive and reconcile. On this subject, Lorenna C. Lehmann O wrote on her blog:
Hablar de Perdón en Colombia en un posible Proceso de Paz exitoso es muy complicado, pues el conflicto armado en el país lleva muchos años y además de eso lleva consigo muchas víctimas; y cuando se habla de víctimas no solo se habla de muertes, si no de desplazamiento forzoso, de secuestros, de mutilaciones, de violaciones y sufrimientos familiares. Es por esto, que el perdón no será un tema fácil de tratar, pero sin él, no es posible conseguir una aceptación del posible Acuerdo de Paz.
To speak of forgiveness in Colombia over a possible successful peace process is very complicated, as the country has experienced an armed conflict over many years that's created many victims. And when we talk about victims, we're not only talking about deaths, but also about forced displacements, kidnappings, mutilations, rapes, and family suffering. It because of this that forgiveness will not be a theme easily treated or resolved, but without it, it's not possible to achieve the unanimous acceptance of the possible peace agreement.
As the debate continues, you can follow the conversation using the hashtags: #AdiósALaGuerra (Goodbye to The War), #VotoNo (Vote No), #PazColombia (Peace Colombia), and #SoyDefensorDeLaPaz (I am a Defender or Peace), among others. For now, all eyes turn to the vote on October 2.