Former president who fought Colombia’s peace deal holds key to its future

The Wall Street Journal reports: Álvaro Uribe found the bullet-riddled body of his father at the family’s farm in 1983. Rebels from the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia, or the FARC, had killed him in a kidnapping attempt.

When he became Colombia’s president 19 years later, Mr. Uribe targeted the FARC with a military offensive. Then this weekend, more than anyone else, he helped scuttle the nationwide referendum that would have sealed a peace treaty between his successor, Juan Manuel Santos, and the Marxist rebel group.

The stunning outcome thrusts Mr. Uribe, now 64 years old and a senator, into a central role shaping what will happen next. Some Colombians see him as the only person who can renegotiate the deal in a way to convince skeptics it isn’t too lenient toward rebels who have gripped Colombia in conflict for 52 years.

Late Sunday night, Mr. Santos said all the political players — a pointed reference to Mr. Uribe, a one-time political ally — would need to “decide among us all what is the path we should take.” The rebels, speaking from Havana, said they wouldn’t return to the battlefield and want to pursue peace.

On Monday, the FARC’s leader, Rodrigo Londoño, called on the peace pact to proceed and said it couldn’t be undone despite Sunday’s vote. “Peace with dignity arrived and will remain,” he said.

Mr. Uribe also sounded magnanimous after the results were announced. He said all Colombians “want peace, no one wants violence.” He called for protection for the FARC rebels who have expressed fear of being targeted by right-wing gunmen and he said his Democratic Center party wants “to contribute to a national accord” on the question of resolving the conflict. [Continue reading…]

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