SPOTLIGHT: COLOMBIA, NOW TO THE PEOPLE
When Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed an agreement yesterday with top rebel FARC commander Rodrigo "Timochenko" Londoño, the pair used pens made from the casings of bullets. It was a powerful piece of symbolism as the last major war in the Americas appeared to draw to a close.
But it's not over just yet. In a referendum on Sunday, ordinary Colombians will have the last word to decide the fate of a deal that could end a five-decade conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of their friends and family members.
In a Spanish-language opinion piece for El Espectador newspaper, translated exclusively into English by Worldcrunch, writer Cristina de la Torre notes that the deal between the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the government, is needed for more than just peace: It's needed to change the culture of violence that decades of war has woven into the fabric of Colombian society.
"Colombia has had an â€˜anything goes' mentality where there's amorality, violence in personal relations, veneration of a militaristic state, and celebration of paramilitaries and guerrillas. In this society, vindictive speech and deceit are the daily currency of political debate, and double standards are a virtue," she writes.
De la Torre says that a "yes" ballot in the coming referendum is the perfect way to turn the page. Just as bullet casings were turned into pens, the votes of citizens can bury a half-century of violence.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- Cedar Rapids, Iowa, braces for what is expected to be the second-worst flooding in its history.
- It's World Tourism Day. Get packing!