Earlier this week, Colombia voted "no" on the peace treaty negotiated with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), a rebel organization that is 52 years-old and is commonly perceived as a terrorist group to the country's natives.
FARC was able to do what Pablo Escobar could only dream of doing—negotiate with the government, largely to the benefit of the criminals. The Escobar era turned into a sloppy affair in Colombia because the government simply would not yield to negotiate. That was when Escobar decided to cause havoc throughout the nation until an agreement was made. The agreement was then breached by the government when the justice system decided to attempt to put Pablo in a government-owned prison, and pull him out of the prison he owned and designed for himself. That essentially led to the downfall and death of the drug kingpin.
From an American's perspective, the "no" may be viewed as the continuance of violence for a country that is notorious for characteristics that, at the end of the day, do not define them. For Colombians, it's about wanting justice for the deep-seated pain that has been inflicted on them by a powerful and criminal organization.
To truly understand why Colombia voted "no," one must understand that the peace treaty guaranteed a paid salary to members of FARC. The salaries range from $211 a month (90 percent of the legal national minimum wage) all the way up to $2,729, depending on ranks. The proposed deal also guaranteed seats in Colombian congress, which would allow FARC rebels to weigh in on rulings that affect the country. The original peace treaty also positioned FARC leader Timochenko and Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The FARC is notorious for the cultivation of cocaine, whose mass production has translated to the exploitation of the poor class of the South American nation. FARC is also reportedly known to violently strip land from impoverished farmers, who are forced to legally deed their property to threatening members. They also infiltrate these towns, kidnap the children, and bully them into work for FARC. Not to mention, former Colombian President Uribe accused Santos and FARC of buying "yes" votes by bribing the campesinos of Colombia.
Colombia is a country scarred by political upheaval and corruption. Whether a voter is going to side with a "yes" or a "no," it's all with subjective reasoning. Some people voting for "yes" are willing to compromise justice in search for peace. The people voting "no" seek justice by any means. But one thing is for certain, neither side of the vote wants to continue the violence.