By Aishwarya Rai, International News Writer
On November 12, a new peace deal was reached between the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group. The talks were held in Havana, Cuba over the past four years and were mediated by Cuba and Norway. An original peace deal was rejected six weeks ago by popular vote in Colombia, as it had been considered too favorable to the left-wing rebels, according to BBC News. Unlike the last deal, this one isn’t expected to undergo a popular vote and instead is expected to be submitted to Congress.
The statement released by the two sides did not give many details about revisions, however, one new requirement under this agreement is for the FARC to show a list of its assets in order to efficiently compensate victims.
Revisions also show that the penalties for committing war crimes have been specified more clearly, and drug trafficking charges on ex-FARC members will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Huberto de la Calle, the lead negotiator, stated that the new agreement “resolves many criticisms” of the previous deal. However, one detail that did not change was that the post-FARC political party may keep its 10 automatic congressional seats, regardless of whether members have been found guilty of war crimes.
The opposition to the old deal was based on disapproval of the government’s intention to pay demobilized FARC rebels on a monthly basis while also financially supporting those who wanted to start a business. The polls had initially shown a secure majority in agreement of the deal, however, on October 2, 50.2% of the voters rejected the deal. The previous deal had been supported by influential figures such as UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, who later received a Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the negotiations.
The rejection of the deal seems to have stemmed from the Colombian distrust of the rebels, given the contentious history between the rebels and the general public since the FARC was founded 52 years ago.
The rebel group’s Marxist ideology, inspired by the Cuban Revolution, created fear amongst the people that its intentions would lead to radical left-wing influences in the country’s politics. Additionally, the long history of fights and crimes between both sides led the old-deal opposition to believe that the rebels were “getting away with murder” through the deal’s leniency.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 22nd print edition.
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