By Nicholas Casey, October 7, 2016, published in The New York Times

The Nobel committee awarded Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, the Nobel Peace Prize in an attempt to nudge the peace deal he brokered that was rejected by voters just five days ago.Photo by Malin Fezehai for The New York Times.

The president of Colombia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for pursuing a deal to end 52 years of conflict with a leftist rebel group, the longest-running war in the Americas, just five days after Colombians rejected the agreement in a shocking referendum result.

The decision to give the prize to President Juan Manuel Santos may revive hopes for the agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, with whom the country has been waging the last major guerrilla struggle in Latin America.

Mr. Santos said he was told of the Nobel committee’s decision by his son Martín, who woke him before dawn on Friday. The winner dedicated the prize to his fellow Colombians, especially the victims of the long conflict, and called on the opponents of the peace deal to join him in securing an end to hostilities.

 Mr. Santos, center left, with Timoleón Jiménez, the FARC commander in chief, last month.CreditLuis Acosta/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 

“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,” he said alongside his wife during his first public appearance since the Nobel announcement.

“They rushed in giving him this prize,” said Marianella Suárez, 36, who works at a shoe warehouse in Bogotá and voted against the peace deal. “This didn’t seem the right moment. He hasn’t achieved peace, and we don’t know if the FARC will accept jail time for their crimes.”

Jairo Rodríguez, a 49-year-old driver who supported the deal, said he hoped the prize would ease the renegotiation and soften the stances of hard-liners like Álvaro Uribe, Mr. Santos’s predecessor as president, who led the campaign against the deal. “We all want peace,” he said.

Weeks after the Colombian government’s deal with the FARC — later defeated in a national referendum — President Juan Manuel Santos spoke with Somini Sengupta of The New York Times.

Colombian voters threw out the peace deal just days after the government invited world leaders to a celebratory signing ceremony, leaving the fate of the agreement — along with Mr. Santos’s legacy — in limbo.

Despite the setback, the Norwegian Nobel Committee recognized Mr. Santos “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end.”

In announcing the award, Kaci Kullmann Five, the chairwoman of the committee, commended Mr. Santos for starting the process, even as she acknowledged that the people of Colombia had rejected the outcome.

She said she hoped that awarding the prize to Mr. Santos would act as a spur for a future agreement. “The committee hopes that the peace prize will give him strength to succeed in this demanding task,” she said. “Further, it is the committee’s hope that in the years to come, the Colombian people will reap the fruits of the reconciliation process.”

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