One of the main lessons to take from the FARC peace deal vote in Colombia may be that their polling isn’t any better than ours in the United States. Most of the reports I saw going into that referendum seemed to indicate that everyone was exhausted from roughly a half century of war and violence and, while FARC is certainly not popular with the citizens, they were ready for peace. But it wound up being a case of not everyone signaling that they were ready to simply turn the other cheek. (AT&T Live News)
Colombians rejected a peace deal with leftist rebels by a razor-thin margin in a national referendum Sunday, scuttling years of painstaking negotiations and delivering a strunning setback to President Juan Manuel Santos, who vowed to keep a cease-fire in place and forge ahead with his efforts to end a half-century of war.
Final results showed that 50.2 percent opposed the accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia while 49.8 percent favored it — a difference of less than 54,000 votes out of a total of 13 million. Pre-election polls had predicted the “yes” vote would win by an almost two-to-one margin.
“I won’t give up. I’ll continue search for peace until the last moment of my mandate,” Santos said in a televised address appealing for calm and in which he tried to reassure voters he was in control of the situation.
As referendums go this one was essentially an exercise in futility. When you put such an important topic to a vote expecting some sort of of vox populi, vox dei result, you’re looking for at least a marginally clear, if not decisive result. Their president was anticipating a lopsided, two to one margin, but if he could have at least come up with a 60% win – or perhaps even 55% – he could have moved forward with some sort of mandate. But a split decision which came down to barely more than 50,000 out of thirteen million ballots is a tie. Now he has to go back to the table without any sort of clear direction moving forward.
But should we really be all that shocked that the nation isn’t ready to band together and sing songs of peace and harmony? Estimates indicate that FARC has been responsible for more than 220,000 deaths since 1964, and this is in a country with a population of roughly 47 million. That’s a significant chunk of the populace which has been directly touched by murder at the hands of the Left wing terror group. Now FARC supposedly wants to lay down their guns and take up a guaranteed number of seats in the legislature so they can begin working on their socialist agenda at the ballot box?
Unfortunately for the rebels, Colombians have too many examples to draw upon as to how socialism works out. It’s not a terribly long trip from Colombia to Venezuela and the people there are rioting in the streets over a loaf of bread. And where do the FARC negotiators go when they need a safe haven for meetings? Cuba. It’s a place where only party members have prospered while the rest of the nation labors in miserable conditions and is constantly under threat of being “disappeared” by their government. Turning over even a portion of their government to the control of FARC can’t be an appealing prospect.
But what are they supposed to do? A half century of warfare has failed to wipe out the fighters and an entire generation has grown up knowing nothing but violence and terror. If you can’t destroy the enemy do you really have to invite them into your tent? I suppose Colombia is about to find out.