Colombia

After pushing a revised peace deal with the FARC rebels through Congress, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos got down to a far bigger challenge Thursday: implementing it.

The lower house's unanimous vote in favor of the deal Wednesday night set off a countdown to end a conflict that has burned for over half a century and killed more than 260,000 people.

"What comes now is the implementation of this accord ... We face an enormous challenge," Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo told a news conference.

Shortly before a charter jet carrying a Brazilian soccer team crashed in the mountains of Colombia, the pilot told air traffic control he was "out of fuel" and experiencing "total electrical failure," according to leaked audio and accounts from a survivor and another pilot.

C
Luis Gallo

The first thing you notice is the restaurants.

Gustavo Cruz, a Venezuelan who runs a restaurant with his father in the Colombian capital Bogotá, says there’s a boom of Venezuelan areperas in the city.

Areperas are the folks who make and sell arepas, corn flatbreads popular in both Colombia and Venezuela, but prepared differently in each country.

And now Bogotá is awash in Venezuelan areperas — a testament to the recent influx of Venezuelan migrants and their visibility in the city’s public life.

A plane carrying a Brazilian professional soccer team crashed in the mountains near Medellín, Colombia, late Monday, killing 71 people.

Five people survived the crash of the charter plane, according to authorities. Officials initially reported that the plane was carrying 81 people and that, variously, 75 or 76 of them had died.

"The British Aerospace 146 aircraft was carrying Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team to a tournament in Medellín, Colombia's second-largest city," John Otis reports for NPR from the Colombian capital, Bogotá.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC, signed a new peace agreement Thursday, despite lingering opposition to the deal.

Neither at war nor fully at peace, Marxist rebels in southern Colombia who want to lay down their weapons are instead killing time and contemplating whether they will be called back into combat.

It's a surreal state of affairs, brought on by a stalemate over an agreement to end Colombia's 52-year-old guerrilla war. The accord was signed last month but then rejected by Colombian voters in a binding referendum on Oct. 2. Now, the entire peace process is on hold, leaving thousands of guerrillas in limbo.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has extended a cease-fire with the Marxist FARC rebels until Dec. 31, as he tries to salvage a peace deal that was narrowly rejected in a nationwide referendum.

The agreement was intended to end the guerrilla war that has dragged on for more than 50 years and killed more than 220,000 people, as John Otis reports for NPR from Bogota. He adds:

"After four years of negotiations, the Colombian government and the rebel group known as the FARC last month signed a peace agreement.

Juan Manuel Santos, the president of Colombia, was awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize for his "resolute efforts to bring the country's more than 50-year-long civil war to an end."

The surprise announcement comes less than a week after Colombian voters delivered a shocking blow to the peace process, and the award notably excludes any leaders of the FARC guerilla group, the other side of the negotiating table.

The Colombian government and the FARC rebel group have spent four years negotiating a peace deal to bring an end to more than 50 years of war.

Terms were agreed on, a deal was finalized, the accord was signed — and then, in a stunning turn of events, the people of Colombia voted against the agreement in a national referendum Sunday.

So. What now?

Associated Press

War or peace?

Those stark options faced Colombians on Sunday — and, by a margin of less than 1 percentage point, Colombians voted to remain at war. In a referendum that aimed to end Latin America's longest guerrilla conflict, voters rejected a peace agreement that would have disarmed the Marxist rebel group known as the FARC. The conflict, which began in the 1960s, has killed more than 200,000 people.

Ricardo Mazalan / AP

I won’t deny it – the leftist guerrillas who signed peace with the Colombian government this week are more Mafia than Marx.

In 1998 I spent almost a week in Colombia’s southern Caquetá province with those rebels, the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, or FARC. Back then the FARC was Caquetá’s de facto government, controlling territory the size of Switzerland. Photographer Keith Dannemiller and I boated up and down the sweltering Caguán River talking with guerrillas and hearing why they’d joined up.

Families are divided over Colombia's peace vote

Sep 27, 2016
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Felipe Caicedo/Reuters

Colombia is on the threshold of a new era: a peaceful one.

For 52 years, there's been violence between the government and rebels who see themselves as defenders of the poor.

The main rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC, formally signed a peace deal with the government Monday in a solemn ceremony in the coastal city of Cartagena.

But there's a hitch. Colombians have to approve the deal in a referendum this weekend. And there is a powerful "no" campaign.

The vote is dividing families.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Like the offspring of other crime godfathers, the son of the late Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar was expected to follow his father into the family business. Instead, he has come clean.

The son, the former Juan Pablo Escobar, has changed his name to Sebastián Marroquín. In response to the many homes and offices his father destroyed with car bombs, he studied architecture so he could put up buildings. And he spends much of his time barnstorming across Latin America as a motivational speaker, denouncing the illegal drug trade and his father's ultra-violent ways.

Fernando Llano AP

  This week, three batches of mosquitoes found in traps in Miami Beach tested positive for Zika. In another important development, the Florida Department of Health admitted  it may take longer for pregnant women to get their Zika test results back. WLRN’s health reporter Sammy Mack fills us in on the latest on the Zika epidemic in South Florida. 

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