By Diego Garcia-Devis
Despite a tumultuous 2016, Colombia ended the year on a hopeful note. On Dec. 10, President Juan Manuel Santos accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to broker peace with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s largest rebel group. In his acceptance speech, Santos said that “the impossible had become possible” – after more than 50 years of fighting, conflict with the FARC was officially over.
Implementing that peace will put Santos’ words to the test. Just days before his speech in Oslo, Congress approved a revised peace deal after an earlier version had been rejected by voters in a plebiscite in October. In order to get the new deal passed, Santos was forced to make concessions to opponents of the original agreement – even on the points seemingly most important to him. That meant revisiting provisions for land reform, transitional justice and, of particular relevance to Santos’ Nobel Prize speech, drug policy.
Santos’ lecture in Oslo constituted a landmark rebuke of the global approach to the so-called war on drugs. He forcefully reiterated earlier calls for the world to “urgently rethink” the way it addresses the global drug trade, noting the high price that Colombia had paid in “deaths and sacrifices” in those efforts.
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