WASHINGTON – The Democratic candidate for U.S. vice president, Sen. Tim Kaine, hailed on Saturday the ceasefire now being maintained in Colombia and said peace is the “future” of the Andean country.
In an interview with EFE, a Spanish-speaking Kaine said the United States must “respect” the result of the referendum in which Colombians voted “No” on the peace accord reached between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, last Oct. 2, but repeated that his country “will support the peace process to the end.”
“We have to respect the referendum of the Colombian people, but we also support the peace process,” said the senator, who as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has followed closely the peace talks held in Havana.
“In the future of a country, we all need peace, but Colombians particularly need it, and I’m very happy about the fact that after the negative result, the FARC and the government say that they will maintain the ceasefire,” Kaine said.
He noted in a telephone conversation with EFE the importance of both sides agreeing there will be “no return to the days of war” despite the setback of the referendum, and that peace is the country’s only future.
After four years of negotiations between the Colombian government and the country’s main insurgent group, Colombians voted “No” on the peace pact signed by both sides several days before in Cartagena, so that those who promoted its rejection, headed by ex-President Alvaro Uribe, are trying to modify its content in order to reach a national consensus.
However, despite not winning popular approval in the referendum by a minimal margin (“No” won by 0.43 percent), Santos extended the ceasefire in force from the end of August to next Dec. 31, in hopes of reaching a final settlement before that date.
“I congratulate President (Juan Manuel) Santos for his Nobel peace prize, a great honor for his efforts,” the Democratic candidate said, adding that Colombia is a key ally of the United States, not only in the region but also as a partner in other parts of the world in promoting “exercises in peace.”