A disappointed President Santos has now renewed his commitment to taking the peace process forward as negotiators try to revise the deal:
Colombian President Santos announced Sunday that he would donate his $925,000 in Nobel Peace Prize money to victims of the conflict that has roiled his country for half a century. Accompanied by his wife and children, as well as several members of his cabinet, the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to broker a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said the funds would go toward “projects, foundations or programs that deal with victims and reconciliation.”
“We’re going to persevere, we will persist, persist, persist and persist until we implement the agreement that was signed” with the FARC guerrillas, President Santos said adding, “if we have to make adjustments to what we have already agreed, we will make those adjustments.” The Colombia leader was speaking after a religious ceremony to dozens of victims of the armed conflict, where 79 people were killed in 2002 when FARC fighters threw an explosive device at a church where villagers were sheltering from fighting between guerrillas and paramilitary forces.
Colombia’s five-decade conflict has killed more than 260,000 people, left 45,000 missing and forced nearly seven million to flee their homes.Under the peace deal, the FARC was to relaunch as a political party. But rightwing hardliners led a campaign against the accord, arguing it offered the rebels impunity for massacres, kidnappings and other crimes committed during the conflict.However, the Columbian voters narrowly defeated the peace deal in a voters referendum. It also said that finding a balance between the need for reconciliation and ensuring justice for the victims would be a difficult challenge. Despite the rejection by voters, President Santos vowed to continue with talks with the rebels.
President Santos made the announcement in the city of Bojaya, in the north-western region of Choco, after taking part in a religious ceremony for people affected by the conflict. The head of the Nobel committee said on Friday the award recognized the president’s “resolute efforts” to end the conflict. “The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process,” Kaci Kullman Five added.
President Santos said he dedicated the award to “all the victims of the conflict”.He also signed the accord after nearly four years of negotiations held by government and rebel delegates in the Cuban capital, Havana. FARC leaders have twice visited Bojaya to ask forgiveness and discuss with community leaders actions to help the town rebuild.
The Nobel Peace Prize is a gold medal, a diploma and a check for eight million Swedish kronor (around $925,000), which will be presented at a ceremony in Oslo on December 10th.