Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Latin American Israelis Cheer Nobel for Colombian President

— Latin American Jews living in Israel added their voice to the chorus of congratulations sent to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Santos, who on Friday won the distinction for his efforts to end Colombia’s five-decades-long civil war, “is highly worthy of the prize not only for promoting peace with rebel militants but also for advancing his country and its society and for strengthening international alliances, including with Israel,” Leon Amiras, chairman of the Association of Olim from Latin America, Spain and Portugal, told JTA.

The award came just days after Colombian voters narrowly rejected a peace deal that Santos helped bring about to end the war that has cost the lives of more than 200,000 people.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that rejection doesn’t mean the peace process is dead.

“The referendum was not a vote for or against peace,” it said. “What the ‘No’ side rejected was not the desire for peace, but a specific peace agreement.” The committee did not cite Santos’s counterpart in the peace negotiations, Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Santos and Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, signed the peace deal last month, ending a half-century of hostilities, only to see a major setback in the shock vote against the agreement in a referendum six days later.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it believes that Santos, “despite the ‘No’ majority vote in the referendum, has brought the bloody conflict significantly closer to a peaceful solution. Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende congratulated Santos on Twitter. “It takes great courage pursuing peace and securing a final outcome that can end the conflict,” he wrote.

Amiras said that “only time will tell whether the peace pursued by Santos will hold,” but noted that he is a “model peacemaker” who has “probably made greater progress than anyone else” toward resolving the conflict. “His achievements are something that we cannot ignore both as Latin American Jews and as Israelis yearning for peace,” Amiras added.

Under Santos, Colombia in 2011 diverged from the policies of many of its neighbors when it declared it would not recognize a unilaterally-declared Palestinian state.

“Relations between Israel and Colombia have deepened significantly under Santos, whose policy served as an important counterweight to the destabilizing effects of Hugo Chavez,” Amiras said, referencing the late president of Venezuela – a harsh critic of Israel who has been accused of pursuing anti-Semitic policies and aiding terrorists.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.