The saga rolls on. After four years of peace talks and more than half a century of armed conflict, the Colombian people have rejected the government’s negotiated truce with the country’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Since its inception in 1964, the FARC has – amongst other crimes – murdered pastors, destroyed churches, extorted congregations, kidnapped missionaries and church leaders, and forcibly conscripted church youth into its ranks to serve as child soldiers.
A ceasefire agreement was signed on 23 June. Two months later, the FARC’s chief negotiator, Rodrigo Granda, celebrated the confirmation of a full peace deal by tweeting: “There is no room for winners or losers when you achieve peace through negotiations. Colombia wins, death loses.”
Now everything is up in the air again, after 50.2% of voters rejected the agreement, many critical of too many “concessions” to the rebels.
As World Watch Monitor reported in June, scepticism had remained throughout the process, with the Church split over the deal.
“The results shows how Colombia is divided,” said Liz Poveda from Open Doors Colombia, which works with the Church under pressure. “One part of the Church was participating with campaigns in favour of ‘YES’ and the other ‘NO’. Christians were worried [about allowing] FARC political participation [until] 2018 and [opening] the doors to Communists.”