The European Union on Monday suspended the planned ratification of post-conflict aid to Colombia after the country’s voters turned down a peace process with the country’s largest rebel group FARC.
According to Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia, the EU foreign ministers were scheduled to approve the joint trust fund in the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, but were forced to postpone this decision after 50.2% of Colombia’s voters turned down the peace process in an October 2 referendum.
The vote came unexpected and stopped the peace process in its tracks as well as commitments from the United Nations and the European Union that had been linked to the public ratification of the deal.
The European fund was supposed to “bring together all European contributions, which make up an international effort to support the peace deal and the implementation of necessary activities in a post-conflict context,” the EU’s Deputy Director-General for Development, Christian Leffler, said in June.
However, without a peace accord there exists no post-conflict context, which forced EU ministers to suspend their approval of the aid fund at least until at least after November 11 when they meet for the first time again.
Garcia reiterated the EU’s ongoing support for the peace process and said the recent Nobel Peace Prize for President Juan Manuel Santos was an “incentive” to continue to pursue peace.
After the October 2 shock vote, Santos began talks with different lobby groups in an effort to present “adjustments and clarifications” to the deal before sending it to Congress for ratification.
The peace deal was mainly opposed by former President Alvaro Uribe, who represents a group of retired generals and powerful rural elites, some of whom are embroiled in war crime investigations over paramilitary ties and the mass theft of land that took place during an anti-guerrilla offensive by the military and the paramilitary organization AUC in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The transitional justice part of the peace deal reduced support among Colombia’s business community, many of whom have paid money to determined terrorist groups like the FARC and their opponents, the AUC. While most these payments were extortion payments, some businesses are accused of financing the AUC for economic purposes.
Santos is also talking to Evangelical Christians who in some cases understood gender differentiation for victims, for example of sexual violence, as an attack on what they consider traditional family values.
The rejection of the peace deal plunged Colombia in a crisis with increased fears illegal armed groups other than the FARC could take advantage of the political and public security chaos, and ignite new violence.