It was somewhat predictable but it was confirmed on October 7. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the world’s longest-running civil war.
The Nobel committee announced the decision in Oslo praising Santos’ “resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end”. Manuel becomes the 15th Head of State or Government to have won the Nobel Prize.
The war between Colombian forces and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) claimed the lives of over 2 lakh people and displaced over 5 million before the government and FARC leaders signed a historic peace deal in August this year.
It took four years for Juan Manuel Santos to strike the deal with the FARC guerrillas. The news of the deal, signed by Santos and FARC leader Timoleon “Timochenko” Jimenez, was covered across the world and made headlines everywhere.
The peace deal was celebrated and hailed as an example for nations where conflicts continue of how to end an intensely bloody war.
However, on Sunday, October 2, the people of Colombia rejected the deal in a referendum defeating Santos’ and his predecessors’ years of hard work.
When they signed the deal, both the government and FARC were of the opinion that the people will vote in favour of the deal.
Yet the Nobel committee felt that Santos “has brought the bloody conflict significantly closer to a peaceful resolution” – a remark not far away from truth.
FARC and Colombian forces are not at each other’s throats the way they were till a few years ago. All that the government has to do is to convince the populace of the terms of the deal.
This is hard because many have lost their dear ones to the FARC guerrillas and a clause in the deal states that the guerrillas will be pardoned, unless they have committed a “crime against humanity”.
Santos was born in Colombian capital Bogota on August 10, 1951 in an influential family. He served as the Colombian defence minister from 2006 to 2009 before becoming President in 2010. His popularity (he is Colombia’s most popular President) saw him re-elected in 2014.
Manuel is the second Colombian after renowned author Gabriel García Márquez to win the Nobel Prize.