- Title: Latin American leaders react to the rejection of Colombia's peace deal
- Date: 3rd October 2016
- Summary: SANTIAGO, CHILE (OCTOBER 3, 2016) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR LA MONEDA PRESIDENTIAL PALACE SHIELD THAT READS: "BY REASON OR FORCE" INTERIOR LA MONEDA PRESIDENTIAL PALACE, "LOS NARANJOS" SQUARE
- Embargoed: 18th October 2016 20:14
- Keywords: Latin America Colombia voters' rejection peace deal Marxist rebels conflict
- Location: LIMA, PERU / SANTIAGO, CHILE / LA PAZ, BOLIVIA / CARACAS, VENEZUELA/ BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
- City: LIMA, PERU / SANTIAGO, CHILE / LA PAZ, BOLIVIA / CARACAS, VENEZUELA/ BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
- Country: Peru
- Topics: Diplomacy/Foreign Policy,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00252GCHMV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Latin America bemoaned Colombian voters' rejection of a peace deal with Marxist insurgents but regional leaders urged Bogota to keep pursing efforts to end the longest-running conflict in the Americas.
Regional countries were heavily involved in drafting a plan to end the 52-year conflict. Havana hosted four years of peace negotiations while Chile, Cuba, and Venezuela acted as guarantor and observer countries.
Nations from leftist-run Venezuela to center-right Peru lamented the outcome of Sunday's referendum, the "No" camp won by less than half a percentage point.
Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski warned the peace deal was "going to be very difficult to renegotiate."
"Former president Uribe (Alvaro Uribe, former Colombian president and leader of the country's political opposition) has said there are topics that need to be renegotiated. That is an issue Colombians will need to look at and how it can be renegotiated. Basically, the issues that have always worried many people in Colombia, especially in the big cities, such as how people, who have been involved in drug trafficking and terrorism, will be reintegrated into society, especially into politics. This is a topic we have also discussed here in Peru and we have a very clear position on that. That is the issue they will probably need to look at and the truth is that it will be very difficult to renegotiate because negotiations in Havana lasted many years and almost collapsed several times. I will not make a prognosis of something I only tangentially know about but it is certainly a situation with a lot of uncertainty. It is much like the "Brexit" vote where for less than 1 percent, momentous decisions are made," Kuczynski said.
Meanwhile, upon arriving at La Moneda Presidential Palace in capital Santiago, Chile's Foreign Minister, Heraldo Munoz, expressed solidarity with Colombia.
"Chile is willing to accompany (Colombia) in this new stage, to persist, if Colombians choose to do so, along the way of peace and help in everything within our reach. So let's look at this carefully. I have been in communication with the Colombian Foreign Ministry and we will see what happens in the coming hours," Munoz said.
Bolivian President, Evo Morales, also said Bolivia would help Colombia seek peace.
"(...) we can't leave the people of Colombia alone. We have to participate together to achieve social peace and peace with social justice but also with dignity for the Colombian people," said Morales.
Colombians who voted against the deal put forward by center-right President Juan Manuel Santos argue it was too lenient on the FARC rebels by allowing them to re-enter society, form a political party, and escape jail sentences.
Foreigners had celebrated the peace agreement without understanding its implications, they say.
The conflict killed about 220,000 people, displaced millions, and saw atrocities on all sides.
Colombia has become far less violent in the last decade, though it remains a big source of drug production and trafficking which the guerrillas used to fund themselves.
Others in the region, such as Brazil's President Michel Temer, said he hoped Colombia would finally reach a positive peace agreement.
"The referendum was given by vote, which I think corresponded to about 40 percent of the voters and the difference was minimal and our efforts, our wish is to reach a good peace term in Colombia that I think will be good for the Colombian state and good for all states of South America," Temer said in Buenos Aires while on an official visit.
Argentina's center-right government, said they would support reviving a peace plan, as both sides in the war have said they would.
"It's essential we advocate for the continuing of the cessation of the conflict, a ceasefire so that really there is a space where you can find alternatives because the result has been very even. It shows there are many people who believe in the way for an agreement and surely many of those who voted against, probably want the same but with another type of agreement. So we hope the conditions - to continue with the negotiations - are generated," said Argentina's Mauricio Macri said.
In neighbouring Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro, said he would continue supporting peace negotiations in spite of the referendum result.
"I reject the position of Venezuela's right to support the war in Colombia and secondly, I'm ready, President Juan Manuel Santos, I'm ready, together with all guerrilla forces in Colombia to further support, with humility, perseverance and love, peace in Colombia. Venezuela will continue to support Colombia's peace, let peace live in Colombia," Maduro said.
But in a region that is deeply polarized politically, there were also some voices celebrating the referendum's defeat. Venezuela's political opposition were appalled by the deal, which they said gave the FARC impunity and handed their rival Maduro and his ally Cuban President Raul Castro a political win.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None