Op-Ed

Colombian ex-pats divided over peace deal

Members of the Colombian guerrilla forces trek to a new camp in Antioquia state in the northwest Andes in January.
Members of the Colombian guerrilla forces trek to a new camp in Antioquia state in the northwest Andes in January. AP

Colombia’s protracted peace talks have put a serious dent in President Juan Manuel Santos’ approval rating at home — and across the Caribbean.

Santos is probably most unpopular in South Florida, home to this country’s largest Colombian community, which is strongly opposed to peace with Colombia’s Marxist guerrillas, known as the FARC.

In a 2014 interview with WLRN, Santos — who has staked his presidential legacy on ending his South American nation’s 52-year-old civil war — took a dig at Colombian expats here.

“Many people in South Florida have bought this black propaganda that I am giving the country away to the communists,” Santos said. “This is nonsense.”

In August, after four years of negotiations in Havana, Santos’ government and the FARC finally announced a peace accord. It could end the longest — and last — armed conflict in the Americas, one that’s killed more than 200,000 people and turned 6 million into refugees.

“This is the end of the tragedy of war for Colombia,” Santos said.

But Santos still has to get the agreement through a referendum of Colombian voters, including expats here, on October 2.

And even if he does, peace implementation — administering epic land reform, turning the FARC into a legitimate political party — promises to be harder than peace negotiation.

“The most challenging part starts now,” says Angela Maria Tafur, a Colombian-American in Key Biscayne. “There has to be a true attitude of reconciliation.”

To read the remainder of this article, go to:

http://wlrn.org/post/miami-colombians-divided-over-peace-guerrilla-mafia

Tim Padgett is WLRN’S Americas editor.

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