Uribe attacks Santos over ‘vultures’ comment, defends presidential pick Zuluaga

Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has criticized current President Juan Manuel Santos for labeling the opponents of FARC peace talks as ‘vultures.’

Uribe was talking to BLU Radio about Oscar Ivan Zuluaga’s surprise selection as the presidential candidate for the Uribe Centro Democratico party – created this year by Uribe. Presidential elections will be held in May of next year.

MORE: Oscar Ivan Zuluaga to represent Uribe in Colombia’s 2014 elections

During the interview, Uribe criticized comments made by Santos on Saturday during a visit to the central Colombian town of Viota. In his speech, the President attacked those people who remain opposed to the ongoing peace talks with the FARC. Uribe is well known for his opposition to the peace talks, a view shared by his party. Zuluaga said on Monday that the peace process was “still born and badly thought out.”

MORE: Colombia peace process must end now: Uribe’s presidential candidate

But President Santos has always dismissed Uribe’s rhetoric as belligerent and misguided. “We have some enemies, some people bent on fear and war,” he said on Saturday. “Some say they are a lot like vultures because they live off death, lurking behind the living, spreading negativity, injecting the living with pessimism. They want to continue the war.”

Speaking from London, Uribe hit back. “We can’t let the positive path consolidated in [his party’s recent] convention be clouded by such suspicions, or because President Juan Manuel Santos calls us vultures,” he said.

When asked about the credibility of the convention process that resulted in the selection of Zuluaga as presidential candidate, Uribe avoided the question.

“I’m too old to answer that … if you had asked my mom if (the result) was fair, she would had hit whoever said that in the face with a briefcase,” he said.

Zuluaga received 56% of the votes at the Uribe Centro Democratico convention in Bogota over the weekend, beating former VP Francisco Santos and former Interior Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo. This result was a surprise as all the polls before the convention tipped Francisco Santos to win.

Zuluaga is set to start campaigning with Uribe to promote the party’s ambition to “retake power.”

However, both Uribe and Zualuaga are under criminal investigation for their alleged dealings with groups belonging to paramilitary umbrella organization AUC – a crime in Colombia known as ‘parapolitics.’

MORE: 3 Uribe-endorsed candidates under investigation for paramilitary ties


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