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This morning, 24th November 2016, Colombians gathered in Bogotá’s main square, Plaza Bolívar, to celebrate the signing of the new peace agreement between Santos’ government, the FARC, and the Colombian public- who, on the 2nd October, rejected the original agreement with 50.2% voting ‘No’.
Large screens streamed live footage from Colón Theatre, situated just behind the square, and speakers amplified the national anthem, sung by Cecilia Silva Caraballo. Citizens waved white flags and held painted umbrellas, supporting the peace process.
The new agreements amended 54 of the 57 points suggested for revision by the opposition. Critics, such as leader of the opposition and the Central Democratic Party and ex-president, Álvaro Uribe, held that they were still unsatisfied with the agreement. However president Santos stated that there is no more room for negotiation.
The need for peace is urgent, especially after the results of the referendum leaving nearly 7,000 FARC fighters who had been ready to begin their demobilization, in legal and operational limbo. Santos imposed a ceasefire but stressed that this was fragile. “The need for peace is urgent”, he stated in his speech this morning. Some fighters and human rights activists have already been killed since announcements of the new agreement, emphasizing that “There is a time limit” to the ceasefire, as Santos previously stated.
The revised peace agreement was taken to Congress, where it received 90 votes in favour and 13 against. Rodrigo Londoño, FARC leader, and Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian president, signed the agreement after 11am, which was followed by cheers from the public waving their white flags.
Citizens who had camped in the square to demand peace, celebrated by singing “Oro, oro, oro; la paz es un tesoro”, (“Peace is golden, peace is to be treasured”), they played guitars, maracas and gaitas, and offered the public to sign a material statement of peace.
The city’s mayor, Enrique Peñalosa, evacuated the ‘Campamento por la paz’ and evicted the peaceful protesters after the agreement was amended last Saturday. The ESMAD (Riot Control policemen) entered the camp at 3am Sunday morning. Some protesters left ‘voluntarily’ and others were violently forced out. When Peñalosa left the theatre this morning after the agreement had been signed, a crowd followed after him shouting “¡Fuera! ¡Fuera! ¡Fuera!” (“Out! Out! Out!”)
In the speeches which followed the signing, ‘Timochenko’ declared, “Let our words be our only weapons”. Santos called for Colombians to “turn the page” on this 52-year conflict which has left 220,000 dead and displaced millions. Supporters in the square celebrated chanting “¡Victoria!” (Victory!) and “¡Sí se pudo!” (Yes, we could do it!)