Virginia Bouvier, 58, the chief of operations in Colombia for the U.S. Institute of Peace who played a vital role in reaching a 2016 peace treaty between rebel guerrillas and the government, died July 29 at a Washington hospital. She lived in Silver Spring, Md.
The cause was complications from salmonella, typhoid, and lupus, said a sister, Nicole Bouvier.
The Colombian newspaper El Espectador stated of Dr. Bouvier after her death: "She was one of those people who was not known to the general public but whose committed, discreet and persistent work for peace in Colombia has been and continues to be key to the success of peace in Colombia."
The peace treaty led to a Nobel Peace Prize for Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. It called for an end to hostilities between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist-Leninist peasant guerrilla force that had taken up arms against the government in the 1960s. In more than 50 years of fighting, hundreds of thousands of civilians had been driven from their homes, thousands were killed, and children were kidnapped and forced to become soldiers for the FARC.
The treaty, ratified by the Colombian congress, called for rural reforms, revised conditions for political participation, measures for dealing with illicit drugs, and justice and reconciliation for perpetrators and victims of violence. Dr. Bouvier was invited to the signing ceremony.
Since 2003, she had been the resident expert on Latin America for the Institute of Peace, a congressionally funded research group for conflict resolution. She had been chief of its Colombia program since 2006.
Colleagues said she was equally adept and comfortable addressing peasant farmers in a barnyard, with chickens scurrying around her feet, and in a business suit talking to government officials or leaders of industry.
She was editor of a book, Colombia: Building Peace in a Time of War (2009), which explores how local and regional issues relate to national ones.
Dr. Bouvier graduated from Wellesley College in 1980, and received a master's in Latin American literature at the University of South Carolina in 1984, and a doctorate in Latin American studies at the University of California at Berkeley in 1995.
Survivors include her husband, James Lyons; a daughter; her parents; and six siblings. - Washington Post