CARACAS/LIMA Oct 3 Latin America bemoaned
Colombian voters' rejection of a peace deal with Marxist
insurgents but regional leaders urged Bogota to keep pursing
efforts to end the longest-running conflict in the Americas.
Regional countries were heavily involved in drafting a plan
to end the 52-year conflict. Havana hosted four years of peace
negotiations while Chile, Cuba, and Venezuela acted as guarantor
and observer countries.
Nations from leftist-run Venezuela to center-right Peru
lamented the outcome of Sunday's referendum, the "No" camp won
by less than half a percentage point.
"Very unfortunately, yesterday a minority expressed itself,
due to media attacks, a psychological war and war propaganda,"
Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said, calling the
Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski warned the peace deal
is "going to be very difficult to renegotiate".
Others in the region, including the center-right government
in Argentina, said they would support reviving a peace plan, as
both sides in the war have said they would.
"We still stand with Colombia," Argentina's Foreign Minister
Susana Malcorra said on Twitter. "Peace is built step by step,
day by day. Wisdom in Colombia's leadership will be key."
Colombians who voted against the deal put forward by
center-right President Juan Manuel Santos argue it was too
lenient on the FARC rebels by allowing them to re-enter society,
form a political party, and escape jail sentences.
Foreigners had celebrated the peace agreement without
understanding its implications, they say.
The conflict killed about 220,000 people, displaced
millions, and saw atrocities on all sides.
Colombia has become far less violent in the last decade,
though it remains a big source of drug production and
trafficking which the guerrillas used to fund themselves.
"A peace deal with the FARC that genuinely worked would have
seen the Colombian state extend its remit across the country,
potentially pushing drugs production into Peru (and to a lesser
extent Bolivia), and security challenges into Ecuador," said
Nicholas Watson of Teneo Intelligence.
But in a region that is deeply polarized politically, there
were also some voices celebrating the referendum's defeat.
In neighboring Venezuela, many in the political opposition
were appalled by the deal, which they said gave the FARC
impunity and handed their rival President Nicolas Maduro and his
ally Cuban President Raul Castro a political win.
"If conversations between the Colombian government and the
'narco-terrorist guerrilla' are resumed, they must exclude the
Cubans from the process," said Henry Ramos, head of Venezuela's
(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Diego Ore in Caracas, Mitra
Taj in Lima, Caroline Stauffer in Buenos Aires, Lisandra
Paraguassu in Brasilia, Alexandra Valencia in Quito, Adriana
Barrera and Anahi Rama in Mexico City; Writing by Alexandra
Ulmer; Editing by Alistair Bell)