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Colombia and FARC Sign New Peace Deal

November 29, 2016
Plain English Version
Leaders agree on new peace agreement. Photo credit: Reuters

Leaders agree on new peace agreement. Photo credit: Reuters

The war in Colombia has been brutal. FARC are Marxist rebels. They tried to take over the country. They raised the money they needed by trafficking in drugs. They killed more than two hundred thousand people. The war lasted more than fifty years.

Now, Colombia and FARC have signed a new peace agreement. This is not the first time. Voters in Colombia turned down an agreement last month. This time, the agreement will go to Congress for an up-or-down vote.

The party of President Juan Manuel Santos is in the majority. What is the difference in agreements?

Many people wanted jail time for those who were criminals. FARC would not agree. The new deal gives judges more leeway in sentencing. For example, sentencing drug traffickers.

It also is about rebuilding the country. Much of the rural areas were under FARC control. The government will have to assure the landowners. They want to know they are not alone. The agreement also takes FARC rebels out of active politics in some areas.

Everyone thought the earlier agreement would win the vote. But voter turnout in some areas was low. The weather kept some voters away. The government did not campaign hard enough. The president was not popular.

The agreement goes to Congress. That bypasses a popular vote. Most think Congress will enact it. An expert said passing the agreement was just a beginning. She said implementing it would be ten times harder.

There is still opposition. Many believe that the rebels are getting off too easy. The question has always been balancing peace and justice. The country could achieve peace through an agreement FARC would sign and respect. Justice would be harder to achieve. The families of the many victims will never get their loved ones back. But they need to feel some sense of justice. This agreement may not provide that sense of justice.

The talks between the government and FARC were in Havana. It is ironic that the last Marxist movement comes to an end just as Fidel Castro dies.

Source: The New York Times November 24, 2016

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