By Beatrice E. Rangel
The Nobel Peace Prize has been bestowed on Latin Americans on two occasions: in 1980 to Adolfo Perez Esquivel, the human rights lawyer fighting a vicious dictatorship in Argentina; and in 1987 on Oscar Arias, the President of Costa Rica for his work to achieve peace in Central America.
It has now come back to the region with the recognition to Juan Manuel Santos the incumbent president of Colombia. This is the best thing to happen to Latin America in many years.
I was among many critics of the peace treaties (see the "The Economic Consequences of Peace in Latin America" in September 2015
and "An Enduring Peace in Colombia" in September 2016, both in the Latin American Herald Tribune)
as agreed in Havana but never against the peace process and the leadership of the President of Colombia in this matter.
For Colombia, to develop territorial unity is required.
With an ongoing 50-year war which resulted in the effective control of territory by illegal armed groups, this clearly was impossible.
Complete annihilation of these groups is almost impossible in light of the existence of the Rome Treaties on Human Rights and the high illicit cash rewards to these groups engaged in the lucrative drug trade.
There was thus only one road to take: negotiation.
And while many of us disagreed with the content of negotiations, the true value of the feat was the process which got the FARC into a labyrinthine situation that takes them off balance very similar to the situations they placed Colombian governments in the past.
This was only possible through Juan Manuel's astute manipulation of the situation which forced the combatants into negotiation. Submission of the Treaty to a referendum was what any true democrat would have done.
Uribe's opposition was the best testament to what a working democracy should be. He opposed the treaty and by means of clearly indicating its flaws, he mobilized Colombians to participate in the referendum.
Without Uribe's campaign against the treaty, many citizens would have stayed home enjoying beer and empanadas.
Further, by waging an unstinting drive in support of rejection, Uribe promoted an in-depth discussion of the treaty that will lead to the perfection of its content in future negotiations.
Now the treaty will be revised and the FARC will need to strike deals with a segment of society which will the tougher to convince because the country will uphold the rule of law and justice above everything else.
None of this would have been possible without Santos' perseverance and leadership. Having known him from our days at Harvard, I can attest to his commitment to Colombian development, great global vision, and kindness. He is a source of pride for all of Latin America!!Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.
For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.
You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.
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