After 50 years of armed conflict in my country, the government began negotiations with the guerrillas during the last few months. It has been a complex time. Government leaders and guerilla leaders have met in Havana, Cuba together with experts to try to shape one the most important agreement of my country, a breaking point of the history of Colombia. Once the final version of this agreement was issued, President Santos announced to the Colombians that on October 2nd, a plebiscite would be held that would allow the people to give their opinion regarding the agreement and dictate a NO or a resounding YES to continue with the process.
During that Sunday, all Colombians, even those outside the country, crossed our fingers in the hopes that the final decision would be agreeable. In fact, the final version of the agreement was not ideal. Imagine that people who have committed crimes for years may receive special treatment or even manage to obtain seats in the congress. However, several of us knew that at least it was a negotiation, so that finally, the FARC would leave and surrender their weapons and not continue the war that has left so much innocent blood in my country.
However, this was not the perspective of many. After reviewing the voting, Colombia said NO to the agreement. It was a bad joke!
If one reviews the results, in most rural areas affected by the war the YES won. The victims of the atrocities committed by the guerrillas shouted YES to this agreement, but the Colombians in some cities gave a resounding and foolish NO. We all cried, we could not believe it! Indeed, it was the result of a million-dollar campaign of government oppression, the “Uribista” campaign of the former president, who provided his influence to convince people who had not even lived through the war to vote for NO.
However, COLOMBIA will not give up! At least it has expressed the willingness of the parties to continue in this process!
I want to tell my foreign friends that COLOMBIA is a resilient country, that although these results sound foolish, and certain movies only depict a partial reality of my country, COLOMBIA is a place of hardworking, kind, and simple people. That despite the circumstances, we will rise again. That more than 50 years of conflict has made us even more powerful, and we will not give up! COLOMBIA is not cocaine, weapons and Pablo Escobar. COLOMBIA is a thriving economy. It is coffee, flowers, educated and professional people, peasants working under the sun, and tireless mothers who build families with values and strong people. COLOMBIA, my friends, has jungle, desert, and beaches in the Pacific, Atlantic and Caribbean. And believe me, this NO, is simply the driving force that will make us work even more to achieve PEACE and a more just and humane society!