A symbol of peace

By Sara Ritchie

Nineteen months into the peace talks with FARC, President Juan Santos won reelection on a platform that promoted peace and promised an end to the armed conflict in Colombia. His message was well-received among Colombian voters, giving him a 900,000 vote advantage over his opponent, Óscar Iván Zuluaga, who openly attacked the peace process, according to the Wall Street Journal. This election illustrated the consistent pattern in Colombia of citizens supporting peace and recognizing the peace talks as means of achieving it. Despite some initial suspicion that many Colombians felt towards the government’s interactions with the FARC, the election results indicated that they believe the negotiations should continue.

President Santos has dedicated much of his presidency to the peace talks that formally began in Havana Cuba in November, 2012. During his first term, the Colombian government and the FARC reached agreements on major points including future political participation of FARC leaders, land reform, and eliminating illicit drug production. Since winning reelection last June, the negotiations have moved forward as the FARC declared a unilateral ceasefire, agreed to demine battlefields, and end child soldier recruitment. In response to these advancements, President Santos ordered the Colombian minister of defense to stop aerial bombings on FARC camps for 30 days to set the tone of shared responsibility of both parties in the peace talks and eventually lead to the final phase of the negotiations.

Bringing Colombia to this final phase has been the core goal of Santos’ presidency. Since reelection, he is often seen with a pin on his jacket lapel of a white dove with gold embroidery. This pin serves as a reminder of his promise to bring peace to Colombia. Create your symbol of peace and participate in the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia on May 17th and 18th as churches in Colombia and the U.S. stand together to support peace for all Colombians.

Sara was a spring semester intern in the MCC U.S. Washington Office and graduated from Eastern Mennonite University on April 25, 2015.

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