World

As some Colombians seethe, others take to the street to trumpet historic peace deal

As news broke that a peace deal had been reached to end the bloody 52-year civil conflict between the Colombian government and the leftist guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, many Colombians took the streets, and celebrated in public squares.

In Bogota, Colombian millennials on bicycles road en mass, waving signs in support of the peace deal – as other supporters of the peace deal poured into neighborhoods with red, blue and yellow flags draped over the shoulders, heralding a new day, and a new peace. Over 200,000 Colombians had been killed in the last 50 decades since the conflict began in this South American country, an important ally to the United States.

On national television, President Juan Manuel Santos gave a powerful speech telling the Colombian nation that August 24th was a day to be cherished in the annals of Colombian history.

"This is a new chapter of peace," Santos said passionately. "The war is over."

 

 

In the streets of the bustling capitol of Bogota, Fox News Latino spoke to many locals and the overall reaction was one of cautious optimism, after years of stalled negotiations and setbacks.

A former Colombian Naval commander who fought against the FARC and drug traffickers in the 1990s tells Fox News Latino that while he is "hopeful of the new accord "it is hard for him to trust a group that has used "tricks" with Colombian authorities in the past.

"My father's generation would never agree to it," Diego, who comes from a family of military officers says, says as a cold drizzle fell on the streets of Bogota. "I don't trust their word."

Diego, who would only speak on condition of anonymity, but whose military record was vetted by Fox News Latino, said that generations of military and former military members would be hesitant to support a group of radicals whom they fought for decades. But in the end, he said he was "cautiously optimistic" because he thought the FARC leaders were also likely tired of the constant war. "They are old and millionaires from the drug war and probably sick of hiding."

As cab driver Jason Avila drove through the streets of Bogota like a car in a Jason Bourne movie, he said that his father was murdered by the FARC in the small town that he grew up in, a village far from rush-hour traffic he now zipped through.

"What about all the people who disappeared because of the FARC? There are still families looking for them," Avila said," My father did not want to work for them, so they killed him."

Avila, who said he was only 15 years old at the time, said his family had to leave the area in fear for their safety, and move to Bogota.

"The law was you were either with them, or you did not live," he said as he maneuvered around another taxi cab.

Hope however permeated other parts of the city. A 78-year-old grandmother at a grocery store said this was a major step in the right direction.

"It is just marvelous," Ana Rosas said, her voice quivering and her eyes brimming with tears," I am so hopeful for my grandchildren's generation. It may not be perfect but it is a huge step for us. I am so happy for the future of our country."

Rosas said she was a young mother in her 20's when the unrest first began and had lived most of her adult life with the ongoing battles and threats of terrorist attacks.

"Finally,” she said, “we have peace."

Serafin Gomez is a White House Producer for FOX News Channel, who also covered the 2016 election as a Special Events & Politics producer and former special campaign correspondent for Fox News Latino. Fin formerly worked as the Miami Bureau Producer for Fox News Channel where he covered Florida Politics & Latin America. Follow him on Twitter: @Finnygo