Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia peace deal: Does it signal a new start?

Colombia's Farc lead negotiator Ivan Marquez (L) and Colombia's lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle (R) shake hands while Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez looks on, after signing a final peace deal in Havana, Cuba, August 24, 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Farc negotiator Ivan Marquez (left) and government negotiator Humberto de la Calle (right) shook hands after they agreed on a final peace deal

A ceasefire has come into effect in Colombia between the government and the main left-wing rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), putting an end to one of the world's longest-running insurgencies.

After almost four years of peace talks in Cuba, a final agreement on ending the 52-year armed conflict is expected to be officially signed next month.

But how do Colombians feel about the agreements reached in Havana and the prospect of lasting peace?

Do they think this may signal the start of a new Colombia?

And how will they vote on 2 October when they will be asked to approve or reject the peace deal in a popular vote?

BBC Mundo's Natalio Cosoy asked people in the capital, Bogota, for their views.


Humberto Valencia, 74, street vendor

Image copyright Natalio Cosoy
Image caption Humberto Valencia is going to vote in favour of the peace deal

"For me it is the start of a new Colombia.

"I think we will all be given a respite after years of war, both the rebels and us civilians.

"I'm going to vote 'yes' to the peace deal because what we want is peace."


Nathalie Pena, 22, communications student

Image copyright Natalio Cosoy
Image caption Nathalie Pena plans to vote "no"

"I don't think this is the start of new Colombia, no.

"I'm not saying it's all bad, but the agreement just does not bowl me over.

"I just don't agree with it. For me, it's a negative thing because it does not deal with the problem of other armed groups.

"It's a half-baked peace. For me it's clear cut, we either have war or we have peace, but you can't leave things half done.

"I'm going to vote against this deal."


Jaime Uribe, 42, security guard

Image copyright Natalio Cosoy
Image caption Jaime Uribe still has some doubts about the peace deal

"You could call it the start of a new Colombia, but I have my doubts.

"I want to leave my children a country at complete peace.

"I think President [Juan Manuel] Santos is on the right track, but he is not quite there yet because all those currently outside the rule of law would have to be involved: The paramilitaries, the Farc, the ELN [Colombia's second largest rebel group] and common criminals.

"This country deserves a complete social and above all cultural turnaround.

"I think the peace agreement is a great step forward so that this country can emerge from the mud it has been mired in.

"I think I will vote 'yes', but I still have some niggling doubts."


Olga Gutierrez, 45, businesswoman living abroad

Image copyright Natalio Cosoy
Image caption Olga Gutierrez thinks the peace deal is a great chance for Colombia

"I think it's a great chance after so many years of suffering inflicted by the guerrilla.

"I just hope that this time the promises made by the government will come true.

"I would vote in favour of peace, like any good Colombian citizen."


Antonio, photographer

Image copyright Natalio Cosoy
Image caption Antonio, who takes photographs of tourists and visitor at Plaza de Bolivar, wants a country at peace

"It could be the start for a new Colombia, God willing. It's a first step, a beginning.

"I hope to God that what they signed will really come into force because the important thing is for us to all live peacefully together, in a country at peace.

"I have never voted before, so I don't know yet if I will vote this time."


Karen Palacios, law student

Image copyright Natalio Cosoy
Image caption Karen Palacios thinks Farc fighters should pay for the crimes they have committed

"The government has done well to end this war in which so many people have suffered, such as the land workers who have been driven from their homes by the conflict and all the other victims.

"It's about time this came to an end after more than 50 years.

"But I don't agree with the peace deal because it does not offer the victims the recognition they deserve.

"I understand that many of those who joined the guerrilla were forced to do so, and that many were only children at the time.

"But even so, they did do a lot of damage to Colombia. They should pay for their crimes by spending time in jail.

"Of course we all want peace, but we're not being told in detail what was agreed in Havana.

"I feel that the government had to concede a lot and that the guerrilla did not concede as much.

"They're going to get an amnesty, that's something that shouldn't have happened.

"I've not yet decided how I'm going to vote on 2 October."


Robinson Quintero, 33, law student

Image copyright Natalio Cosoy
Image caption Robinson Quintero thinks the agreement is "only the start"

"I think this peace deal is a first step, the first hurdle has been taken.

"For a long time, everyone has been looking forward to the ceasefire coming into effect. Here in the city, we don't really grasp the magnitude of that.

"But it's only the start, because to achieve real peace we need health care and education.

"That's the real peace this country needs.

"I haven't decided yet how I will vote. I have seen lots of debates on TV and I have noticed that there are things people don't yet have the concrete answers for."


Clara Ramos, self-employed

Image copyright Natalio Cosoy
Image caption Clara Ramos says the Colombian people have been "tricked" by the Farc before

"It's not the start of a new Colombia just yet, we have to wait and see what happens next.

"It sounds good but we have to see what happens in the future, because in the past many promises have been made and none of them become reality.

"I'm not going to vote, because I have not been swayed by this deal.

"It all sounds great, but we have been tricked before and I won't believe it until I see it."

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