All we are saying, is give peace a chance.
These words from John Lennon's first solo single still ring true today, especially in Colombia. Lennon quipped the phrase during their bed-in (rather than than a sit-in) honeymoon in Montreal, Canada in 1969.
Certainly, this still rings true in Colombia. The Colombian population has grown tired of 50 plus years of conflict. Although, most of this occurs in the fringes of the country, it still is a wearisome process.
In late August in a poll by Invamer Gallup, 63.8% of the people polled indicated that they would vote for peace if it was put to a referendum, although in Medellin only 53.5% would do so. In the same poll, approximately 50% of the respondents said that they would turn out to vote, if the deal was put to a referendum.
Interestingly enough, not all of the population want peace. There are personal interest groups and others, including the former President Alvaro uribe who have resisted these efforts, at least in this form, to have peace.
These negotiations have been ongoing for three years. The two sides have reached tentative agreements on three points - land, political participation and illegal drugs. The thorniest issues remain - disarmament and transitional justice.
Of course other important matters linger. Many of the victims of this conflict have been women, indigenous and Afro-Colombian. Their voice is not well represented at these talks. After an agreement is reached what challenges will Colombia face ? Demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants is not an easy task. Is the military prepared to adjust to new missions ? How will they respond to the natural tendency for some ex-combatants to drift towards the military and criminal elements ? As the people move back on to the land, what about the risk of deforestation ?
The Colombian government is well aware of the controversy, conflict and challenges remaining. The future for Colombia is very bright. The elimination of this problem and an increased level of security - at least perceived by the rest of the world will be highly beneficial to Colombian tourism.
No matter what a foreigner might perceive from reading some the Western media, Colombia is very safe and only in the outlying areas, where a tourist should not be traveling, is there a security risk.
The Colombian tourism slogan from a few years ago, still applies true today. 'The only risk is not wanting to leave.'