What Would A Colombia At Peace Look Like?

Colombia, a nation in spite of itself. This is how one native characterised her country and looking at Colombia’s recent history, it’s not hard to see why. For the better part of the past century, the South American state has been seized in a cycle of brutality that has seen civil upheaval, narco terrorism and right-wing death squads take over. Its citizens have been displaced on a mass scale and the death toll through these disputes is in the hundreds of thousands. Put simply, Colombia is a nation ravaged by conflict.


But perhaps the most poignant – and very much bloody – battle from all this has been the government’s ongoing struggle with Marxist guerrillas. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has been at war with Bogotá for over five decades, leaving a trail of deaths just as long as the nation’s other conflicts combined. The ideological tug of war between communism and capitalism that plagued much of the twentieth century is still very much at the fore of Colombia’s current political setup. However, now, in 2016, a deal between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo ‘Timochenko’ Londoño has been struck, ensuring one of the world’s longest modern day wars is in its last moments. Peace is on the horizon for Colombia… or so we thought.


With the people of Colombia rejecting the peace terms earlier this month in a “shock” referendum decision, it appears the blood spilled in this long-standing battle is a stain on the nation’s social fabric that just won’t go away. However, perhaps the most compelling note of the referendum was voter turnout. A mere 38% of Colombians voted. Many factors were given as to why numbers were so low, ranging from poor weather conditions, few polling booths being made available to a lack of trust in politicians.


But what if Colombians did vote? What if they voted yes to peace, as was the general consensus before the referendum? What would a Colombia at peace look like?


Peace Provisions

To map out a future for a peaceful Colombia, we must first understand the peace terms agreed to by the government and FARC. The accords were divided into four key areas. Land, politics, drugs and victims. Under a new Colombia, the government would relinquish, of sorts, particular areas of the country and hand it over to the people in what would be self-governed communities. Officials of these regions would be elected at a local level, and the nation’s poorer farmers would be given more land to crop, going against the heavy monopolisation of land that is seen throughout rural parts of Colombia.


FARC would undergo a process of de-militarisation and transition to the political arena to become a fully fledged political party. It would receive an automatic five seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives for the next eight years (two terms).