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Amidst violence, Colombia signs new peace deal with FARC rebels

November 24, 2016 at 6:30 PM EDT
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a new peace deal with FARC rebels on Thursday, weeks after voters rejected an earlier agreement in a referendum. John Yang talks with special correspondent Nadja Drost about the changes in this latest deal, how the Colombian people are reacting to it and why recent violence is creating a sense of urgency to resolve the situation.

JOHN YANG:  The president of Colombia signed a new peace deal with FARC rebels this morning, about six weeks after voters narrowly rejected an earlier agreement. Days after that vote, president Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end that five-decade-old war. For more, I’m joined from Bogota by special correspondent Nadja Drost. Nadja, how significant were the changes that were made after the referendum?
NADJA DROST: Well, John, the government and the FARC said they incorporated many if not most to have the changes that no campaigners and opponents of the PCL had voiced. The current PCL. That was just signed has included over 50 changes, among them the FARC has promised that they will reveal all information related to narco trafficking and drug trafficking routes to help out law enforcement. But could it say that many of the changes in this new deal don’t go far enough in punishing the FARC in serious human rights abuses.
For example, one to have the main arguments is FARC leaders should not be able to run for political office while still serving alternative sentence force atrocities committed.
JOHN YANG: Why was the government insistent on getting it renegotiated and signed quickly?
NADJA DROST: There is a real sense of urgency here to get this peace process back on track because simple referendum and the PCL failed on October 2nd. We have about 7,000 FARC fighters spread out across the country in judicial limbo and their demobilization has been paralyzed. While there is a bilateral seize fire in place, it’s fragility was demonstrated.  Earlier this month two FARC guerillas were killed. This weekend at least three random activists and leaders in a social movement assassinated and another one killed this morning.
JOHN YANG: What are the next steps? What are the challenges in implementing this peace deal?
NADJA DROST: President Santos decided not to put this new peace deal to a popular vote as he did last time and it failed.  Instead, he is sending it immediately to congress for approval. While we don’t yet know if the implementation of the deal will get fast tracked into congress or dragged out in debates.
We know the opponents to this deal in congress lead by former president Alavaro Uribe have vowed to oppose the deal, but how much they’ll actually will be able to do in congress considering they’re a minority is it’s not looking very hopeful for them to actually help any legislative changes.
JOHN YANG: Nadja, this has been a bit of a roller coaster ride, the peace agreement reached, rejected by the referendum, renegotiated and signed. What’s the mood of the public now?
NADJA DROST: We’re here in Bogota’s main square, the Plaza Bolivar. There is definitely a sense of, I would say, mild jubilation, but more of that relief. However, I would say that the patience of Colombians has been really tested out with this peace process and it hasn’t been beneficial for anybody that this peace deal has been going through so many stages of limbo.
JOHN YANG:  Nadja Drost in Bogota. Thanks for joining us.
NADJA DROST: Thank you, John.