'Aqui no': Not here, say the voters of Colombia
Another country and another group of voters who sent the experts to that place we can't say in a family blog.
Let's go to Colombia first:
A Colombian peace deal that the president and the country’s largest rebel group had signed just days before was defeated in a referendum on Sunday, leaving the fate of a 52-year war suddenly uncertain.
A narrow margin divided the yes-or-no vote, with 50.2 percent of Colombians rejecting the peace deal and 49.8 percent voting in favor, the government said.
The result was a deep embarrassment for President Juan Manuel Santos. Just last week, Mr. Santos had joined arms with leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC, who apologized on national television during a signing ceremony.
The surprise surge by the “no” vote -- nearly all major polls had indicated resounding approval -- left the country in a dazed uncertainty not seen since Britain voted in June to leave the European Union. And it left the future of rebels who had planned to rejoin Colombia as civilians -- indeed, the future of the war itself, which both sides had declared over -- unknown.
Both sides vowed they would not go back to fighting.
So what happened in Colombia?
Let me introduce you to my good friend Daniel Duquenal, who lives next door in Venezuela. I agree with him that President Santos, who was President Uribe's defense minister, made a huge mistake in bringing Cuba (not an honest broker) into the middle of these negotiations:
Then came the choice of Havana and Castro's guidance to negotiate with its allies, the communist FARC.
If at first there could be a case written for it, if anything to guarantee the discretion that the Cuban jail brought, it soon became clear that Santos was negotiating on the FARC turf, on the FARC mood swings, etc.
But it got worse. As Venezuela started to unravel fast, that it was one of the garant of the process became a minus.
Colombians simply could not help but think as to whether an agreement with the FARC, made in Havana under the eyes of Venezuela's colonial masters, had a Venezuelan like future in store.
Furthermore, what led President Santos to make this deal anyway? Maybe he was looking for a Nobel Peace Prize. Frankly, it's easier to win one of those than to do anything about peace these days. Just ask President Obama!
So the bottom line is that a majority of Colombians saw through this deal. They saw Cuba and Venezuela and said "aquí no," or "not here" in Spanish.
Colombia has made amazing progress since the narco wars. The country has a decent economy, and they are sick and tired of FARC, a narcoterrorist organization responsible for the murder and chaos of the 1980s. Only an insane person would believe that FARC was serious about forming a government rooted on democratic principles.
Moral of the story: Don't assume that voters like peace agreements because they are called so. And more importantly, don't go to Raúl Castro to do anything about improving anyone's future!