Colombian president to donate Nobel Peace Prize winnings to civil war victims

Juan Manuel Santos says award gives him a mandate to push forward country’s stalled peace process

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Friday.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Friday.Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda (EFE)
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Santos donará el dinero del Nobel a las víctimas del conflicto en Colombia

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has announced he will donate the €830,000 he received as part of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded on Friday to victims of the country’s five-decade long civil war.

Santos made the announcement on Sunday in the municipality of Bojayá, where 119 people were killed in a 2002 attack carried out by the leftist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

This global recognition is for all of the victims, for you Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos

“I want to tell you that I met with my family last night and we have taken the decision to donate the money so that victims can be compensated,” said Santos, who was awarded the prize for his role in brokering a peace deal with the FARC that promises to end a civil war that has cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to six million people.

“We are going to choose projects, or foundations or programs that are connected to the victims,” the 65-year-old leader explained, without providing further details.

Santos was awarded the Nobel Prize on Friday in a move many observers see as a huge shot in the arm to the country’s faltering peace process.

The Nobel Prize Committee’s decision to give the prize to came just days after voters in Colombia narrowly rejected the text of the peace deal between the government of Santos and the FARC. A total of 50.21% of voters said no the deal in a plebiscite that saw some 60% of voters abstain.

That shock result has plunged the country into political crisis and has stalled the peace process.

An initial meeting between Santos, president since 2010, and his predecessor Álvaro Uribe – who led the ‘no’ campaign in the lead-up to the referendum – proved fruitless, and Santos has described the situation in the country as a “dangerous limbo.”

The Peace Prize is a boost to the country’s faltering peace process

However, Nobel committee spokesperson Kaci Kullmann Five downplayed the negative result in the referendum saying it was not a “vote against peace.”

“The committee hopes that the peace prize will give Santos strength to succeed in this demanding task. Further, it is the committee’s hope that in the years to come, the Colombian people will reap the fruits of the reconciliation process,” Kullmann Five said.

“This global recognition is for all of the victims, for you,” said Santos on Sunday.

“It is a mandate for us to – not just the president of the republic but all Colombians – to keep seeking and guaranteeing this peace,” he said.

“I am not going to lose heart for even a minute, and I’m not going to give up for a single second. I am going to keep going,” the president added.

Santos is just the second South American to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the first being Guatemalan political activist Rigoberta Menchú, who received the award in 1992.

English version by George Mills.

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