75 PIVOTAL PUBLIC POLICIES: COLOMBIA’S PEACE DEAL

In August 2016, a peace deal was announced between Colombia’s President, Santos, and the FARC paramilitary group. This followed four years of negotiations, many hosted by the government of Cuba, to end a deadly domestic conflict that had begun in 1964, left 264,000 people dead, displaced millions from their homes and helped embed Colombia at the heart of the illegal drug trade.

 

 

It was then narrowly rejected by the Colombian people in a referendum—the public felt it was too generous to erstwhile guerillas —before being lightly renegotiated and then ratified by Congress in November 2016 (this time opting to go without a referendum). The deal later earned President Manuel Santos a Nobel Peace Prize, and has largely been honored despite remaining politically highly controversial.


President Santos found inspiration in an earlier peace deal between a government and terrorist groups on the other side of the world. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998, following a lengthy series of negotiations in Northern Ireland’s peace process, facilitated reductions in military personnel and parliamentary decommissioning of weapons, as well as introducing an innovative system of self-government for the territory co-headed by a former terrorist. While there have been some extremely tense moments since, the agreement has essentially been honored.

 

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