Public opinion discourses on reconciliation in the context of the 2016 final peace agreement with FARC-EP in Colombia

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Sanchez, Diana Patricia
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After half a century of armed confrontation with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC-EP by its Spanish acronym), Colombia is implementing a peace agreement reached in 2016. Unfortunately, the conflict and the peace negotiation process left a highly divided country, resulting in an intense polarization around peace and the implementation of the 2016 final peace agreement. To shed light on what reconciliation means for Colombians and the related concerns, I use Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Johan Galtung's Conflict Analysis Theory to analyze the main discourses serving to frame and shape public understanding of reconciliation. To this end, I tracked figurative representations found in public opinion editorials and such like from 2017 to 2021. I discovered that there has been insufficient discussion around reconciliation in public opinion, with a downward trend throughout the years. However, when Colombian public opinion addresses the topic of reconciliation, it is mainly to support instead of attack reconciliation processes. In public opinion, reconciliation is portrayed not only as a complex process and an end goal but also as a choice engaging unity, dialogue to agree on minimums, and acknowledgment of victims' suffering. Furthermore, the most controversial issues in pursuing reconciliation are the search for truth, the implementation of transitional justice, the politicization of peace, and the former combatants' political participation. To address discursive dissonance that endangers reconciliation, I propose shifting narratives around transitional justice and the dichotomy around friends and enemies of peace, among other peace-positive discourses that might be helpful to support reconciliation and peace processes in Colombia.
Reconciliation, FARC-EP, Public opinion, Discourse Analysis, Colombia