Despite Peace Deal Setback, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Read more

Just days after a devastating setback in the Colombian peace process – in which voters rejected a hard-won peace deal by a tragically narrow margin – the country’s president Juan Manuel Santos has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

The Nobel committee announced their decision earlier this morning, and in his first public appearance, Santos dedicated the award to the victims of the country’s 50-year civil war. Thus far, in what amounts to the longest-running conflict in the Americas, 220,000 civilians have died and 5 million people have been internally displaced, making the stakes of peace exceptionally high for those living in affected areas.

In fact, the regions where the conflict has been most deeply felt voted overwhelmingly in favor of peace in the plebiscite held this past Sunday. Santos had spent several years brokering the agreement with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) with the mediation of the Cuban government, but a forceful campaign to reject the deal was mounted by ex-president Álvaro Uribe, whose father was killed by the FARC in 1983.

The results ultimately titled 50.2% in favor of rejecting the deal, with a shocking 62% abstention rate lending added ambiguity to the results. In light of the Nobel Prize announcement, Uribe offered a lukewarm congratulation to Santos, who was Minister of Defense during his presidency, but took yet another opportunity to reaffirm his position.

Meanwhile, proponents of the accords have celebrated the award as giving the deal a much-needed boost ahead of the cease-fire’s impending expiration.