By WorldTeach Colombia volunteer Julia Rampton, 2016-2017
Cartagena has a civic day today, which means that all public schools and many public officials take the day off of work in order to observe a monumental moment in Colombia’s history. On September 26, 2016 the city is hosting the country’s president Juan Manuel Santos, leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (FARC), and representatives from the United Nations to sign an international peace agreement. The signing of this agreement marks the end of a 52-year-long Colombian civil conflict that first started in 1964 between the Colombian national government and the FARC guerrilla group. After four years of negotiations and peace talks held in Habana, Cuba, members of the international community have drafted a peace agreement detailing six agenda points that address policy reform concerning the following topics: agriculture, political participation, illicit drugs, victims, end of conflict, and finally the implementation of these peace agenda points.
This signing means that the sixth agenda point of Colombia’s peace agreement has finally reached fruition. While every Colombian I know is wholeheartedly excited about the peace process, some people (particularly on the coast) have reservations about this draft of the agreement. The trouble is that the document is hundreds of pages long, people don’t have time to read it fully, and given Colombia’s recent history and the magnitude of political corruption that took place here, it’s hard for Colombians to muster up confianza (confidence, trust) in their national government. Moreover, the individuals that will vote against the peace agreement are not voting no to peace, but rather are voting no to the current version of the peace agreement.
There will be a national election this coming Sunday, October 2, so citizens will have a formal opportunity to voice their opinion to the government. However, whether or not a simple majority vote will win this election is yet to be seen. After this election, the peace agreement will either be ratified or rejected based in some way off of the votes that are placed. In the meantime it is an honor to be living in Cartagena at the moment, experiencing this stimulating energy, and teaching in the public school sector. I have so much gratitude for the Colombian government for the inspiring amount of funding they continue to dedicate towards the Colombia Bilingüe program, sponsoring me and hundreds of English-speaking foreigners to teach in this beautiful country. It’s beginning to feel like the government really believes that education is Colombia’s future.
This piece was originally posted on September 26th on Julia’s blog, which can be found here.