On June 23, Britain shocked the world after voting to withdraw from the European Union, a process that’s popularly known as “Brexit.”
However, as it turns out, Brexit wasn’t the worst direct vote in the world to take place this year.
No, the worst national referendum of 2016 just took place in Colombia, where voters rejected peace deal with the Marxist guerrilla army called the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
It was a close call with 50.2 percent of the country’s 34 million voters rejecting the agreement and 49.8 percent voting in favor of it.
The results have shocked many Colombians since the peace deal could’ve ended the longest running, at nearly 52 years old, conflict in Latin America that has claimed the lives of at least 220,000 people and displaced more.
And the worst part is that neither the government of Colombia nor the FARC knows what to do next.
The historic accord came after four years of negotiations between the government, headed by President Juan Manuel Santos, who managed to formulate a plan to disarm 5,800 guerrilla fighters and FARC leader Timoleon Jimene — just days after the his group apologized for decades of cocaine-fueled war, including murder and kidnappings, on national television in order to garner support for the “yes” vote.
But the efforts by both sides died in vain.
So, why did Colombians say “no” to what could’ve been a potential war-ending accord?
There are a lot of answers to that question. However, the one reason behind the rejection that stands out has to do with a part of the peace deal that grants amnesty to FARC leaders responsible for serious crimes, essentially rewarding war criminals for participating in a political process. And a lot of people weren’t OK with that.
“I voted no. I don’t want to teach my children that everything can be forgiven,” Alejandro Jaramillo, a Bogota engineer, told Reuters.
“The day they are behind bars I will go and give them my hand and forgive them,” Nohora Tovar, a senator, who was kidnapped by FARC in 2000, told the Guardian.
No one’s sure of what’ll happen next.
While the rejection of the deal doesn’t mean immediate return to war, it has made the road to peace even more difficult than before.
For now, the future of peace in Colombia hangs in the balance.