Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Latin America at the Crossroads Seminar: Colombia

March 9th, 2017

On Friday, March 3, 2017, CIPR hosted the third talk in the series “Latin America at a Crossroads.” Dr. David Roll (National University of Colombia) discussed Colombia’s history of political violence, reasons why a majority of voters rejected the peace agreement with the FARC in last October’s referendum, and the many challenges that the country will face as the peace process continues.

Dr. Roll began his talk by discussing some of the many theories that have been proposed to explain Colombia’s most pressing problems. While some have identified the country’s Spanish heritage, drug trafficking, capitalism, and even the “violent DNA” of the Colombian people as reasons for the country’s issues, Dr. Roll pointed to Colombia’s failure to modernize its polity and economy as one of the primary reasons behind the country’s long history of war and rebellion. However, since his election in 2010 and reelection in 2014, President Manuel Santos has made a concerted effort to achieve a peace deal with the country’s main guerrilla group, the FARC. After years of negotiation between the FARC and the government, an initial agreement was reached, and in October 2016 President Santos put the deal up for a vote in a referendum. Despite polls that had shown the “yes” vote comfortably ahead, in the end the deal was narrowly rejected by Colombian voters. Dr. Roll explained that the government had pushed for the accord before a national consensus had been built in favor of the deal. In spite of lingering controversy over the agreement, the peace process is simply too far along for it to stop completely. However, Dr. Roll cautioned that, while Santos is likely to push for a similar agreement with the country’s other main guerrilla group, the ELN, it is important to recognize that other sources of violence, such as drug trafficking, must also be tackled if the country is to truly achieve peace.

The next talk in the series will be on Friday, March 24, 2017 at 4:00 PM. Professor Cynthia McClintock will be discussing political trends in Peru since a presidential runoff election last year in which Pedro Pablo Kuczynski narrowly defeated Keiko Fujimori.

This talk was organized by CIPR post-doctoral fellow Rachel Navarre