If Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos wants to close peace with the FARC, he best begin campaigning hard as a second poll confirmed that the majority of voters rejects the current peace agreement.
According to pollster Ipsos, 50% of Colombians currently reject the deal that would end more than half a century of violence. Another 39% supports the peace agreement as it stands.
The Ipsos poll confirms Colombians’ negative attitude towards the peace deal measured last week by Datexco.
What is curious about the Ipsos poll is that it seems that support for peace has dropped since Santos and the FARC agreed to a bilateral ceasefire and details about the guerrillas’ disarmament became public.
According to Ipsos, in June a convincing majority of 56% said it would vote in favor of the deal.
Why Colombians reject the peace deal
The latest poll clearly shows why Colombians oppose the peace deal that took more than four years of tense negotiations.
According to Ipsos, a staggering 88% of Colombians said the FARC “should pay for their crimes and go to prison” against 10% that said “the leaders of the FARC shouldn’t go to prison.”
In the deal, a convicted war criminal will be able to evade prison and only be imposed a “restriction of liberties” if he or she fully cooperates with justice and repairs his or her victims.
If a convicted war criminal does not or only partially cooperates, he or she will be sent to prison and can face a sentence of up to 20 years.
Another reason for Colombians to vote against the peace deal is their rejection of the possibility of seeing FARC leaders taking part in politics, one of the key elements of the deal.
While FARC leader “Timochenko” has already said nobody in the FARC has aspirations to be in government, members will be allowed temporary seats in Congress as part of the agreement’s partial agreement on political inclusion of the FARC and other minority groups.
Additionally, Colombians polled by Ipsos said to have little faith the government will be able to assume control over areas set to be abandoned by the FARC.
According to 59% of the polled Colombians, “the government does not have the capacity” to do so.
So little time, so much opposition
The Santos administration and its allies in the quest to see the peace deal approved only have limited time to convince Colombia to support peace with the FARC after decades of war and war propaganda.
Additionally, the peace deal is fiercely opposed by the conservative opposition led by former President Alvaro Uribe.
According to Uribe, the government has been too lenient with the FARC in regards to justice, ignoring the possibility both Uribe and Santos could face justice for the killing of thousands of civilians.
The opposition also opposes congressional representation for the FARC, one of the key demands of the Marxist guerrilla group.
Both the “Yes” and the “No” camps formally kicked off their individual campaigns last week.
The government in the meantime began a propaganda campaign trying to “educate” the Colombian people about the realities of war and the peace deal.
Santos does not have much time though. The Constitutional Court last month gave the president no more than four months to hold a plebiscite.
While the FARC has said it would not return to war if the people vote against the deal, the government does not seem to have a “Plan B” if Colombians reject the peace deal.
Consequently, ongoing preparations to demobilize and disarm the FARC would come to a halt, leaving Colombia with a fully armed guerrilla group that has been one of the main players in a war that killed more than 265,000 Colombians and displaced approximately 7 million more.