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After the referendum, Colombians must remain on the path to peace

GUE/NGL MEP Tania González Peñas, vice-chair of the European Parliament's Delegation for relations with the countries of the Andean Community and member of EUROLAT, commented with disappointment on the results of the referendum in Colombia, where she is currently taking part in an official parliamentary delegation:

“Yesterday we visited a polling station in the city of Bogotá where the ´Yes´ won with 56 per cent of the votes. It wasn´t until 80 per cent of the votes were counted that the ´No´ got the lead. We are talking here about a referendum that won by 50 000 votes, a little more than half of the population of Avilés.”

“We hope that even though the referendum did not pass, both parties can maintain a dialogue that can address this setback in the best possible way. Dialogue must prevail.”

The Spanish MEP highlighted the challenges that Colombians still face and the need to remain alert to protect the peace process from derailing: 

“We ask the EU envoy to the Colombia peace process, Eamon Gilmore, to pay attention to the threats and attacks against individuals and activists who have campaigned for the ´Yes´ vote. So far this year there have been more than 300 death threats registered and nearly 40 killings of human rights defenders. The result of the referendum cannot lead to the reactivation of paramilitary groups.”

“There is still need to reduce the huge inequalities in Colombia, to implement an agrarian reform to return lands to those displaced by the conflict, the demining of the country, economic recovery in conflict areas and fighting criminal gangs and drug trafficking.”

González Peñas expressed confidence in both parties´ commitment to dialogue despite the setback:

“We welcome that both President Santos and Rodrigo Londoño have opted for peace after the referendum results. We are committed to pursuing peace in Colombia and to the defence of human rights, and for the agreements signed on 26 September in Cartagena de Indias. The end to violence should and must be an irreversible process.”