After the FARC Peace Referendum Failed, What’s Next for Colombia?

After the FARC Peace Referendum Failed, What’s Next for Colombia?
Opponents of the peace deal signed between the Colombian government and FARC rebels celebrate the results of the referendum on the peace accord, Bogota, Colombia, Oct. 2, 2016 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

On Sunday, Colombians narrowly rejected in a referendum a peace deal with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, raising questions about what the future holds for a country that has been fighting the guerrilla movement for 52 years. The insurgency—the longest war in the Americas—has left over 200,000 people dead and over 8 million displaced. Polls ahead of Sunday’s referendum predicted a two-to-one margin of victory for the peace deal, but the final tally showed 49.8 percent in favor of the deal and 50.2 against it.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leaders have said they will push forward for peace despite the rejection of a deal that they painstakingly negotiated over the past four years. In a televised address after the referendum results were announced, Santos said, “I will not give up. I will continue seeking peace until the last day of my presidency.”

FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, said that “FARC reiterates its disposition to use only words as a weapon to build toward the future. To the Colombian people who dream of peace, count on us, peace will triumph.”

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