Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has received congratulations from all over the world after winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end the country’s long-running conflict.
Yet Colombia’s future remains uncertain after the deal he negotiated with FARC rebels was narrowly rejected by voters in last weekend’s referendum.
In Bogotá people camping out in protest in favour of peace – who recently organised a silent demonstration calling for national reconciliation – have moved their rally to outside the presidential palace for 48 hours. The demonstrators welcomed the Nobel award for the president.
“A Nobel prize is not the same as peace, we have not finished yet and we demand an agreement right now. That is the first thing. The second thing is we have to depersonalise this Nobel prize. This Nobel prize is because of the victims and for the victims,” one man told Euronews.
The demonstrators also see the award as backing for Santos’ decision to invite all sides to continue talking to prevent the peace process from dying.
“It is not just an achievement for Juan Manuel Santos, it is also an achievement for the FARC. It is good news because the Nobel prize is rewarding their effort,” said Natalia Salzar, a student.
“I think it is going to have a positive reaction in Colombia, because it is a pat on the back from the international community. The support Colombia needs is very important and anything that comes our way is welcomed,” added Jorge Perez, an artist.
“I think it is a show of support from the international community to Colombia and to our deep desire to find an immediate solution to this conflict that has cost us so many lives. It is a ‘yes’ to this country,” said Carlos Fernandez, a teacher.
Some commentators have criticised the Nobel award, arguing it was inappropriate given Colombian voters’ rejection of the peace deal. Many believed it was
too generous to the FARC. They included former President Álvaro Uribe – but he has joined the chorus of congratulations over the award.
In a recent interview with Euronews, President Santos said he thought the greatest achievement of the peace process was the decision to put victims at the centre of all discussions.
Natalia Orozco reported for Euronews from Bogotá:
“The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Santos has filled Colombia with hope, specially those who insist the agreements must be ratified as soon as possible. A statement from Havana said negotiators would keep listening to those who voted NO, to those who opposed the agreements. However they also said that any change can only be made by the Colombian government and the peace delegation from the FARC.”