He might’ve planned it as a victory lap, but Colombian Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzon’s speech at Emory Law next week will likely be more of an explainer on how its “historic moment” went awry and what’s next for the country.
In a surprise 50.2 to 49.7 percent vote that teetered on a razor’s edge, the Colombian people on Oct. 2 narrowly rejected a hard-won peace deal to end more than half a century of conflict with the Marxist guerrilla group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
The deal, hammered out through four years of painstaking negotiations by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leaders with support from the U.S. and the United Nations, would have seen the group laying down its arms in exchange for a role in the political process of the country.
Many balked at reconciliation with a group whose perpetual rebellion has claimed up to a quarter-million lives and stunted Colombia’s economic growth, wracked its political system and spurred huge amounts of drug trafficking and corruption.
Prominent leaders around the world, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter here in Georgia, took the measure of urging the people to “Vote Yes to Peace,” but the deal was widely expected to pass relatively easily. Some have suggested that a signing ceremony six days before the vote — presenting it as a fait accompli — rankled Colombian voters who still harbor ill-will toward the FARC. But other factors were at play as well.
For Emory Law, it’s a chance to gain key insight at a pivotal time for Colombia. Mr. Pinzon has been ambassador for more than a year and is a former minister of defense for Colombia.
“This is an unparalleled chance for our students, faculty and the broader Emory community to hear about how the very issues we teach and discuss in the classroom are being grappled with and implemented on the ground in real time,” Professor Laurie Blank, director of the International Humanitarian Law Clinic at the law school, said of the talk.
The inaugural Global Leaders Lecture is free, but registration is suggested for planning purposes. The Carter Center, which watches closely developments in South America through its Americas and Democracy programs, is working with Emory Law on the event.