Newly published documents prove that former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe offered rebel group FARC congressional seats and an exemption from extradition in the event the rebels agreed to make peace with the former administration.
“If a peace agreement require they [the FARC] go to Congress, this obstacle certainly will have to become a constitutional norm,” a 2006 letter from the Uribe administration to negotiator Henry Acosta read.
Uribe has criticized the current government of President Juan Manuel Santos, claiming that giving the FARC seats in the congress would be an act of impunity.
Besides offering seats in Congress, Uribe’s then-Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo, also offered the FARC a demilitarized zone, a non-extradition agreement and a bilateral ceasefire, other documents show.
A letter addressed to senior FARC commander Pablo Catatumbo and signed by Restrepo reads that “we believe that conditions are ripe for conducting a meeting where issues like these are addressed: conditions for a demilitarized zone meeting; security for FARC representatives; security for the locals; proposals for a humanitarian agreement; The Government’s position regarding the extradition of FARC members in relation to the peace process; viability of a ceasefire with government reciprocity; Government perspective on the conflict and steps for a successful peace process.”
A final report on the matter of peace negotiations with FARC made by Henry Acosta, a Cali economist and personal friend of Catatumbo, who was put in charge of making physical contact with Catatumbo and delivering government proposals to the FARC, confirm these proposals of non-extradition, a bilateral ceasefire and a demilitarized zone.
The FARC never responded to these proposals, allegedly because they did not trust the Uribe administration.
The ongoing leaking of evidence of Uribe’s attempts to make peace with the FARC have embarrassed the former President, who is at the front of a conservative minority that opposes the current talks with the rebels. According to Uribe, concessions made by his successor constitute “handing the country over to Castro-Chavism.”
Additionally, the former president has claimed Colombia has capitulated to terrorism by allowing Santos’ concessions.
While in office between 2002 and 2010, Uribe led a number of the Colombian state’s most successful offensives against the FARC.
However, as he became politically marginalized after the end of his terms in office, and an increasing amount of political allies got in legal trouble over paramilitary ties, illegal spying, corruption and the extrajudicial killings of thousands of civilians, Uribe assumed a hard-line approach and categorically rejected his successor’s peace talks.
The former president was elected senator in March and is currently leading almost 40 loyal lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Senate.