This week Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, and the leader of the FARC, Timoleón Jimenez, signed a final peace agreement to end a half century of war that left about 300,000 Colombians dead or missing and drove 5 million more out of their homes.
Ratification of the accord—signed before 17 heads of state and 25 foreign ministers—is now up to Colombia’s voters, who vote Yes or No this Sunday on whether to turn aspirations for peace into the law of the land.
It’s important that high-level representatives of the international community were present for the big peace signing ceremonies. But more important will be the solidarity shown by citizens from around the Americas, responding to calls from Colombia’s people to join them on the road to peace.
Global Exchange, has a long history of working for peace and reconciliation in Colombia and Colombians have joined similar efforts like the Caravan for Peace, Life, and Justice through Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States last spring. Those same Colombians are now spearheading an unprecedented civil society Caravan for Peace that will travel throughout Colombia from Nov. 11-22.
Visionary Colombians who have supported the national reconciliation process are organizing this Peace Caravan to some of the regions hardest hit by the war. They seek international support to amplify coverage of encounters and dialogue between Colombians whose lives have been divided by the cruel realities of combat.
A YES! vote in Colombia on Sunday will be a unique reason to celebrate; in a world where conflicts fester and spread, a vote for peace will represent a rare triumph of reason and humanity.
No doubt there are many challenges ahead for Colombia’s peacemakers, not the least of which is the drug war.
In the absence of regional drug policy reform, the illicit drug trade will continue to fund outlaw organizations and exert corrupting influences at many levels of society. None of that is good for sustaining peace, reducing homicide rates, or breaking the narco-stigma that subtly plagues Colombians.
But things are changing and the drug war is more discredited than ever before. Across the Americas ordinary citizens, many whose lives have been scarred by violence, are pushing for change.
Please support their efforts to build a Peace Caravan with a contribution today. Let’s show the Colombian people that the world is with them in their courageous quest for peace.