The day Colombia shocked the world

The 2nd of October should have been a day for celebration for the country of Colombia – A peace negotiation complete and signed by both parties, the only thing left was a public vote, that’s the easy part right – who isn’t going to vote yes.

The polls leading up to the plebiscite indicated that the ‘yes’ vote was going to win by a land slide, many people also believed that after the leader of the FARC apologised to the nation and asked for forgiveness at Monday’s declaration signing the gap would once again increase.

The polling stations closed at 4pm and the votes started being announced, the first few votes were 70% to 30% for peace, then more and more started being announced with closer and closer percentages. The came the first big blow, an area around Medellin 70% to 30% for no peace, then again. By the time they had announced 90% of the votes ‘no’ was ahead by 60,000 votes (again not a high number). It was decided, by a very close margin – Colombia had decided no for peace.

I know what your thinking how can a country who has been at war for 52 years, had thousands of individuals kidnapped and killed, vote to carry on this war. As an outsider this is what we see, I will admit when I first heard there was going to be a vote, I was a little taken back, why would a country at war need to vote if it wanted to be at peace. It should just jump at the chance for it, for the next generation to start over, opportunities to improve the countries reputation and lively hood for everyone.

The more you look into the vote and see it from an insiders point of view the more you understand it. Yes Colombia was voting for peace, but it wasn’t technically; Colombia was voting for whether or not they agreed with the terms of the peace declaration. Included in the peace declaration were; rehabilitating FARC soldiers back into ‘normal’ life, meaning many would go unpunished for the crimes they committed, allowing FARC to have 10 seats in Congress and build a political party (although they wouldn’t have a deciding percentage) and many others just did not believe the FARC would keep to the agreements. Peace was just the outcome of the declaration, there’s nothing to say that peace won’t occur now if they reach another deal.

The plebiscite or Brexit number 2 as the Colombian media referred it to, was extremely close, finishing at 49.78% yes (6,377,482 votes) and 50.21% (6,431,376 votes) no, with a total voter turnout of 13,066,047 (37.43% of the population).

The most interesting thing about the votes is that if you break it down by regions and then compare them to the areas effected the most by FARC it’s a very interesting revelation. The areas affected most by FARC are primarily the regions which the ‘yes vote’ was the strongest, these are the people who want peace, the people whose lives are affected everyday, the people who have had family members killed or land taken away from them. The areas which predominately voted no are were Antioquia (the department containing Medellin) and Santander, these regions were less affected by FARC but contain a high amount of people especially Medellin (2nd largest city in Colombia). So why did so many of these people vote no, this is the question on many Colombian minds, the leader of the no party is Álvaro Uribe is from Antioquia and many followers in the region.

The opinion in Colombia on Sunday night is mixed, many in shock and many more wondering whats going to happen next. Nothing else could have been done to persuade people to vote either way, the ‘yes’ vote had the world’s backing, with the possibility of a Nobel Prize or the Pope visiting and the ‘no’ vote had the backing of a top politician.

The future for peace in Colombia is still yet to be written, President Santos has declared he will do everything he can to see peace come to this amazing country, with the backing of the world, fingers crossed he succeeds.


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