MEDELLIN, Colombia – Thousands of people have marched through the streets of Medellin to demonstrate against the resumption of war and to call on people to unify for peace in Colombia, after the agreement signed by the government and the FARC was rejected a referendum last Sunday.
The massive mobilization, called for by youth under the slogan “Peace belongs to us,” brought together various civic organizations, universities, victims of violence and members of the LGBT community with the intention to unite the country between those who voted “no” and those who opted for “yes” in the referendum.
“With this march we show the hope we have for the victims to find peace and truth, we are able to forgive, but we want to know what happened to our relatives,” said Rosalba Patiño, whose two children have been missing for over 17 years in a disappearance she attributes to the rural-based Marxist guerrillas.
Crowds gathered at the Park of Lights on Friday night with flowers, white balloons, letters, flags and music, waving handkerchiefs in recognition of armed conflict’s some 220,000 victims and their families.
The hours-long march saw peacemakers carrying placards reading “Let the leaders know that we believe in peace,” “My heart is ready to forgive” and “We can build Colombia together.”
The peace agreement was rejected last Sunday in a plebiscite in which the “no” vote obtained 50.21 percent of the votes, while the “yes” side garnered 49.78 percent.
Medellin was one of the cities where the most votes garnered the “no,” accounting for 62.97 percent of the total.
“We’re looking to send a message of reconciliation and unify forces to tell Colombia that we can still create opportunities to build the peace that we all desire,” Galvis Daniela Restrepo, one of the organizers of the march, told EFE.
Restrepo added that the demonstration was undoubtedly enhanced by the Nobel Peace Prize awarded Friday to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and was a symbolic gesture to honor victims and to “urge the country to seize this historic moment.”
After the referendum, Santos called on those who led the “no” campaign – former presidents Alvaro Uribe and Andres Pastrana – to create two commissions for dialogue to resume the peace process.