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Q. Referendum for disarmament in Colombia: Comment on recent referendum of disarmament in Colombia.
Oct 04, 2016 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

Recently referendum was held on peace deal between Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The peace deal has been rejected by people of Colombia by razor thin majority. If electorate voted for yes, it would have immediately set in motion the process of disarming the rebels.

Background-

  • The Colombian Conflict began in 1960’s between the Colombian government, paramilitary groups, crime syndicates and left-wing guerrillas such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the National Liberation Army (ELN), fighting each other to increase their influence in Colombian territory.
  • Over 52 years, the conflict has claimed about 220,000 lives and displaced about six million people. This conflict between government and guerrillas has virtually turned Colombian countryside into war zone.
  • The rebel group (guerrillas) is accused of massacres, trading in illegal drugs and running extortion rackets. This has created popular anger against guerrillas.
  • When government and rebels felt that there is no solution through military actions, leading to negotiation between government and rebels four years ago with Cuba’s mediation.
  • This negotiation has finally resulted into peace agreement between government and rebel forces. This agreement has put before people for their assent.

Peace deal-

  • According to agreement Rebel group FARC will start the process of disarming.
  • Under the terms of the current agreement, most of FARC’s rank and file would be allowed to lead civilian lives.
  • FARC leadership will be judged in special tribunals with reduced sentences.

Referendum-

  • The popular anger was seen against guerrillas due to its violent actions like massacres, illegal trade of drugs etc.
  • Most of the Colombian felt that, in agreement with rebels justice has been sacrificed for achieving peace.
  • Hence most of the Colombians are rejected the peace deal between government and rebels by voting no in referendum.
  • It may again lead the country towards civil war, the war which Colombian has been witnessing since last 50 years.

What’s next-?

  • Both Colombian government and rebel groups need to renegotiate a fresh deal and put it to another referendum.
  • The government and the rebels may have to go through another round of tortuous talks.
  • The goodwill and trust needs to be strengthened to look for creative diplomatic solutions to end the war for good.
  • The Colombian government should also try to win over the opposition, which would strengthen its appeal to the public for a deal.
  • If the FARC has sent back to the jungles, then it may create risk of potential resumption of the war.

Conclusion-

Colombia has been witnessing the war since last 50 years, and has lost and displaced whole lot of people. Hence the peace deal initiated by government and rebels four years ago has created hope among people. But recent rejection of peace deal through referendum has been setback to peace process. Hence government and rebels must start renegotiation process. There is no alternative to peace.


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