The public referendum held on 2 October 2016, has resulted in a victory for the opponents of peace with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia – People’s Army. This is a major defeat, but also shows the deep anger many Colombians feel towards their corrupt capitalist government. Only 37% of all voters decided to vote, this low turnout is not uncommon in a nation were less then 50% vote in elections. Many urban workers voted against the peace with the FARC-EP, because they reject the idea that the former guerrilla fighters would receive social benefits. Now the Colombian government has a problem, the people rejected the peace treaty!
Revolutionary Socialist Media hoped for peace on 2 October 2016. But the low voter turnout and massive rejection of urban workers shows that Colombia is deeply divided. Although there has been little to no fighting in urban cities, the working class is very bitter about the peace progress. They reject the social benefits demobilized FARC-EP soldiers would receive and also think that the guerrilla group is not punished enough. These people were rallied by the right-wing to reject the peace. The treaty was signed by the unpopular government of Juan Manuel Santos. A president who is called ”too soft” by the hardcore anti-leftist establishment!
Former right-wing president Alvaro Uribe spearheaded the movement against the peace treaty. He rejected the idea of giving FARC-EP soldiers social benefits and ten seats in parliament for five years. Many Colombians agree with him and because of the anti-FARC climate among the ruling class, there are even those who call for the arrest of all guerrilla soldiers. Revolutionary socialists reject this hateful thinking because it is very hypocrite. Alvaro Uribe and his right-wing say nothing about that fact that anticommunist paramilitary forces, killed more people between 1964 and 2016 then the FARC-EP and ELN did. Although the leftist guerrilla’s are responsible for kidnapping and extortion, they have killed far less people!
There is however this anticommunist tactic of blaming the FARC-EP for all violence. During the reign of Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), the Colombian government silently removed the anticommunist paramilitary groups, but never blamed them as much as they did the FARC-EP and ELN. The National Liberation Army (ELN) rejected the peace treaty from the beginning and with the rejection of the public, there is a big possibility that true peace will be far away. The FARC-EP knows that it cannot win, the Colombian government knows it cannot win either. But the ruling class and its right-wing supporters do not want peace. They need the image of the ”terrorist communist guerrilla’s” to scare the population, into voting for corrupt capitalist governments. Few in Colombia even believe in voting. Less then 43% came to vote during the 2014 parliamentary elections!
With this major defeat, there will be political instability. The government of Juan Manuel Santos has no plan B and gambled on this treaty. Had there been a higher turnout among rural peasants, then there would have been a YES vote. But former president Uribe played on the deeply anti-FARC feelings among urban workers and the ruling class. In the cities, the Revolutionary Armed Forces are called terrorists and hated by almost all people. Rural peasants have a slightly different view as they known the guerrilla fighters better. However these peasants do not vote in elections as they have no trust in anything the government does. Understandable because the Colombian government is corrupt, elitist, supportive of neoliberalism and has never cared about the lower classes!
No peace means a stalemate as the FARC-EP will remain armed and ready to resume the conflict. Revolutionary socialists call on urban workers to reject the right-wing led by Alvaro Uribe and build a party for themselves. For years, the working class has trusted capitalist politicians such as Santos and Uribe, but neither of them did anything for those who do not enjoy the ”benefits of capitalism”. As we reported previously, more then 17,8 million Colombians are living very poorly and have no access to a average standard of living. These people are the ones who had so much to win, yet because of their skepticism did not came forward to cast their vote. Since a very small majority of those 37% who came to vote said; NO, the Colombian people rejected the treaty even if only a small minority actually voted against peace!