Though the future of peace in Colombia is uncertain given current President Iván Duque Márquez’s opposition to the peace accords, Santos cited a Constitutional Court ruling that protects the accord for the next three governments. Still, Santos recognizes there is a long way to go to shift public opinion and achieve true reconciliation.
“We’re in that process—convincing people that it is better to have peace than to have war,” he said. “The ones that were not convinced are starting to see the benefits of the peace process.”
Women in War
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 reaffirms the important role of women in peace negotiations, peacebuilding, and conflict prevention. In recognition of the disproportionate effects of conflict on women, the accords include a chapter that ensures women receive certain benefits post-conflict. Santos said,
“For the first time, we put the victims in the center of the solution of the conflict, the victims and their rights—their rights to justice, to reparations, to the truth, to non-repetition.”
“The role of women was very important, and I think this is an aspect of the process that has to be always underlined,” he added
Peace and Democracy in Venezuela
Before Santos left office, the economic and refugee crises in Venezuela had spillover effects in Colombia.
“I opened the door to the Venezuelan refugees—1.2 million when I left office,” he said. “We gave them education, health, and helped them in every way possible."
Santos asserted that there needs to be an agreement with major stakeholders, namely China, Russia, Cuba, the United States, and Latin American countries. He also called for mediation efforts from the UN or the Catholic Church, recognizing the great need for a peaceful transition of power.
“Venezuela is not a country accustomed to violence as Colombia has been,” said Santos. “If there is a violent transition, the aftermath will be very difficult to administer, and that is going to have terrible repercussions in Venezuela and in Colombia, so by all means we need a peaceful transition.”
The event "Port of Destiny: Peace Film Screening and Conversation with Former President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos" took place on February 26, 2019. It was sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies and the Latin American Leadership Program.