Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos wins 2016 Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his role in the peace process with FARC rebels. He dedicated the prize to the victims of his country’s civil war.
On Friday, the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 was awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to encourage all those who are striving to achieve peace, reconciliation and justice in Colombia,” the committee announced, noting that Colombia’s conflict was “one of the longest civil wars of all time and the sole remaining armed conflict in the Americas.”
Santos did not immediately hear about his award, announced in the early hours of the morning for him in Bogota, but later dedicated it to victims of the civil war.
“I am infinitely and whole-heartedly grateful for this honor,” Santos said in a televised address alongside his wife. “I receive it not in my own name, but in the name of all Colombians, especially the millions of victims of this conflict that we have suffered for more than 50 years.”
The deal brokered over years of talks between Santos and his FARC counterpart, Rodrigo “Timochenko” Londono Echeverri, suffered a major setback on Sunday, when Colombians narrowly rejected it at a referendum. Now both groups are scrambling to rescue the accord. A ceasefire stands, but Santos, who has staked his legacy on making peace, warned that Colombia finds itself in a “very dangerous limbo.”
“I invite everyone to join our strength, our minds and our hearts in this great national endeavor so that we can win the most important prize of all: peace in Colombia,” Santos said on Friday.
‘No turning back from peace’
FARC commander Timochenko congratulated the president on Twitter, saying he continued to hope for “peace in the streets.”
“The only prize we aspire to is peace with social justice for Colombia, without [right-wing] paramilitary groups, without retaliation [against leftist rebels] or lies,” he wrote.
The FARC leader was notably not named as a co-recipient of the Nobel prize, a decision which has drawn some criticism. Ingrid Betancourt, a former hostage of the rebel group, told French broadcaster I-Tele that she believed the award should have been shared with the rebel group.
However, she also said it showed that “there was no turning back from peace,” and praised Santos for “giving the next generation the possibility of living in a different country.”
Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairwoman Kaci Kullman Five said the award should not be seen as a “rebuke” of the referendum which rejected the peace deal. She also noted that the committee’s decision to award Santos was “not a belitlement to any of the other parties,” noting that FARC was an important part of the peace process.
Colombian former president and leader of the “no” campaign against the peace deal, Alvaro Uribe, has also extended his congratulations to Santos on Friday.
“I congratulate President Santos for the Nobel,” Uribe said on Twitter, expressing hope that it would lead to “changes” in the peace deal.
Praise from world leaders
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, called the Peace Prize “encouragement to continue on this path.”