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Juan Manuel Santos criticizes those who make populism with peace and hopes for national union

The ex-president Colombian Juan Manuel Santos assured this Monday that “It is very easy to make populism with peace” and said that he hopes that the next government will be able to unite the country around the agreement that was signed five years ago with the guerrillas of the FARC.

Santos took part in the presentation in Bogotá of the Open Library of the Colombian Peace Process (BAPP), a digital platform in which the information, methodologies and lessons of this process will rest, of which he recalled together with the last head of the FARC, Rodrigo Londoño, and with the Norwegian ambassador, John Petter Opdahl, some aspects and anecdotes of the negotiation.

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The former president and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize winner stated in his presentation that “Everything can be built around peace and nothing can be built around war”Although, apparently elsewhere, “In all peace processes in the world there are always unhappy people.”


According Santos (2010-2018), in a peace negotiation, in addition to having to deal with “the heterogeneous character“Of the negotiators, it must also be done in the polarizing environment that surrounds a dialogue and of which Colombia was no exception during the talks in Havana, which took place from 2012 to 2016.

“In a situation of political polarization it is very easy to make populism with peace”, Said Santos, who also gave as an example the situation experienced in Israel after the signing of the peace agreement with the Palestinians in September 1993.

The former president noted that the then Prime Minister of Israel, Isaac Rabin, “The opposition they made against him for having signed peace with (Yasser) Arafat cost him his life.”

“I dream that tomorrow we will be able to unite around the implementation of the process because a society needs common denominators and what better common denominator than to unite around the construction of peace”, he stated.

In that sense, he also said that “Hopefully the incoming government (which will be elected next year in Colombia) has that willingness to build on what has been built and unite the country around those objectives.”


His wish was supported by Londoño, who praised Santos for persevering in the search for peace and for offering the former guerrilla a real possibility of ending the conflict, which he said was different from the failed negotiations that were held with other governments.

“In the only process where we had the opportunity to exchange weapons for politics was in this process of President Santos, in the others we were always asked to surrender in exchange for nothing”, expressed Londoño, known in his time as a guerrilla as “Timochenko”.

Londoño assured that although in the ranks of the FARC there were those who had doubts about the real will for peace of the Government of Santos, “Internally, the negotiation process was not difficult.”

The last head of the FARC and now president of the Comunes party, into which the former guerrilla was transformed, stressed that with regard to peace, Santos “He has not gotten off the boat and we continue to row in the same direction”, and supported the desire of the former president that the whole country join this cause.

“Hopefully all Colombians from all sectors continue to row in that same direction”, Londoño stated.


The library’s presentation was also attended by former Colombian Peace Commissioner Sergio Jaramillo and former guerrilla chief Pablo Catatumbo, current Senator of the Commons, who took part in the negotiations in Cuba and related some anecdotes from those dialogues.

The BAPP is an initiative of the Compaz Foundation – created by Santos – and has the financial support of the Norwegian embassy, ​​which together with Cuba was the guarantor of the peace process.

The library is an interactive platform in which the information, methodologies and lessons of this process will rest, as well as more than 4,500 documents including letters, testimonies of the parties, videos, photos and infographics, among other contents.

“The documents are an invaluable legacy for our country and for the world that needs more and more references for negotiation and peace.”Said the director of the Compaz Foundation, Paula Gaviria, who pointed out that the Colombian model serves as an inspiration for other countries.


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