In the final countdown to the announcement of the winner of the world’s most prestigious award, the Nobel Peace Prize, the buzz is growing around two Latin American men. One is Argentine-born Pope Francis, whose unconventional style has made waves across the globe. The other is Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, whose efforts to forge a peace deal with Marxist rebels are already winning him accolades around the world, but remain controversial at home.
On Sept. 23, while the world was enthralled by the papal visit to the U.S., Colombians who follow Santos on Twitter found an unexpected message from their president. He was on his way to Havana, he wrote, for a key meeting. “Peace,” he announced, “is near.”
The stream of replies to the cryptic announcement revealed Colombians’ range of emotions surrounding the three-year-old peace process with Marxist rebels on which Santos has staked his presidency. Some replied optimistically, encouraging the president. Others unleashed their skepticism. Many referred to “impunity”: The fear that perpetrators of vicious crimes might go unpunished has loomed as the one potentially insurmountable obstacle in Colombia’s quest for peace.