Posted by Tom Heyden on May 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Uribe accepts inclusion of ‘armed conflict’ in Victims Law

colombia news - alvaro uribe

Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe appears to have ended the dispute with his successor Juan Manuel Santos over the recognition of an “armed conflict” rather than a “terrorist threat” in the Victims Law, Caracol Radio reported.

The Victims Law, which seeks to provide reparations to victims of the violence associated with the country’s “armed conflict,” is due to undergo the final round of debate in the Senate Tuesday.

The former and incumbent presidents have been involved in a pointed exchange for almost two weeks over the impending terminology of the Victims Law, with Uribe particularly outspoken in his objection to the recognition of an “armed conflict,” arguing that it would legitimize the guerrilla groups he fought hard to classify as “terrorists” in the eyes of the international community.

He appears to have had a change of heart, however, as he now accepts the new classification, albeit with some conditions.

Uribe said that the new terminology must not restrict the actions of the military forces against violent groups, nor grant political status to the illegal armed organizations.

“The qualification of the conflict in the law does not restrict the armed forces and military to act with strong initiative against criminal actors who are not considered in this law for the reparation of victims,” he stated, referring to his earlier fears that it would diminish the army’s ability to effectively fight neo-paramilitary groups or other drug-trafficking organizations not included in the law.

These “conditions” are in reality rather redundant in light of Santos’ repeated statements that the terminological change will have no impact upon the way the military combats violent groups, nor does it signify any recognition of the guerrilla groups’ legitimacy.

Nevertheless, Uribe did further impress upon lawmakers to make a distinction between the perpetrators who he labelled “major offenders,” such as guerrillas and paramilitaries, presumably as opposed to state forces.