Colombia’s Failed Peace

Why It Failed, and What Comes Next

FARC fighters at a rebel congress, September 2016. John Vizcaino / Reuters

Peace came tantalizingly close. On October 2, the Colombian people went to the polls in what was meant to be the final act of the conflict between the Colombian army and the Marxist rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Latin America’s oldest and bloodiest civil war. Colombians were asked to vote yea or nay on a peace accord to end the war, a conflict whose longevity, at more than half a century, earned it the moniker of “Latin America’s endless war.”

Victory had seemed like a foregone conclusion. The war had torn apart Colombian society by killing almost a quarter of a million people (more than 80 percent of them civilians) and driving an additional six million from the countryside to the cities. Millions, traumatized by the violence, left the country altogether. The war also poisoned the country’s politics, wrecked the economy, and tarnished Colombia’s

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