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Colombian-Americans in Southern California split over FARC vote




Members of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla attend the broadcasting of the signing of the peace at El Diamante rebel camp, Caqueta department, Colombia on September 26, 2016.
Members of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla attend the broadcasting of the signing of the peace at El Diamante rebel camp, Caqueta department, Colombia on September 26, 2016.
RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images

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Colombian citizens will vote Sunday on whether to ratify a peace treaty to end Latin America’s longest running conflict.

Here in Southern California, the vote is splitting Colombian-Americans who disagree about where the country is headed.

Rodrigo Londoño, leader The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, signed a peace agreement in Cartagena on Monday with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. As reported by The Guardian, the deal is meant to turn the FARC into members of a political party. The insurgent group has been battling the Colombian government for more than half a century.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (2-L) and the head of the FARC guerrilla Timoleon Jimenez, aka Timochenko, shake hands during the signing of the historic peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in Cartagena, Colombia, on September 26, 2016
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (2-L) and the head of the FARC guerrilla Timoleon Jimenez, aka Timochenko, shake hands during the signing of the historic peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in Cartagena, Colombia, on September 26, 2016
LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images

But critics of the deal have concerns about integrating FARC members back into society. While much of what will happen after the vote is unclear, as part of the agreement, members of the group will be given alternative punishments to incarceration if they confess their involvement in war crimes.

This leaves questions about whether the treaty will bring peace and what other insurgent groups may replace the FARC.

AirTalk asked SoCal Colombian-Americans to weigh in on the vote. Here are some highlights:

Sandra in Culver City said she doesn't support the deal:

I am extremely concerned about this peace bill. It's not necessarily fair for all the victims, the hundreds of thousands of victims of the FARC's hideous crimes they've committed against [Colombians], against the environment. . . . they're signing this peace treaty with the government where they're going to have space in the government, in Congress. They're going to get money every month; more than a normal citizen that has never committed any crime. . . Right now my decision is to vote 'no,' only because I'm hoping that the threats of going back to war are not going to happen. Rather, they're going to go back to negotiate a more just treaty for all Colombians. 

Sandra says family members have been impacted by the FARC:

My grandparents are from a very small town and they were extorted over and over again by guerrillas. 

Grace in Hawthorne said her Colombian friends are split on the vote:

My family and I are on the same page. I actually have seen a lot of silence from my friends--Colombians who don't live in Colombia anymore, who are overseas. They are reluctant to talk about these things because there's a little tension. Whether you're for 'yes' or 'no,' there's a big division. But another thing I'm concerned about is on Monday, this peace treaty was signed in Cartagena, with a lot of [support from leaders] from all over the world, when the Colombian people haven't even decided if they're O.K. with this or not.

Guests:

Steven Dudley, co-director and co-founder at InSight Crime, an investigative think tank focusing on crime in the Americas; he tweets from @stevensdudley

Kate Linthicum, reporter for the LA Times covering immigration and politics; she tweets from @katelinthicum