In the latest live debate between Colombian presidential candidates held Tuesday night, international relations continued to be a hot topic, with all candidates agreeing to sign a document rejecting foreign intervention in the Andean nation’s affairs.
Cambio Radical candidate German Vargas Lleras proposed the statement, after raising the issue of Ecuadorean and Venezuelan interference in the Colombian electoral process.
Some of the candidates commented that the policy of no interference should be reciprocated and that Colombia must respect international norms and laws.
All of the candidates supported Partido de la U’s candidate Juan Manuel Santos in the face of charges brought against him by an Ecuadorean court, which will “soon” call Santos to trial for his part in the 2008 Colombian army bombing of a FARC camp on Ecuadorean soil. FARC leader “Raul Reyes” was killed in the attack, which Ecuador says undermined its sovereignty, and led Quito to sever ties with Bogota.
Vargas Lleras criticized Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for interfering in the Colombian elections, as well as the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza’s failure to condemn the perceived interference.
“I condemn the meddling of any president or government in the country, I also don’t like Insulza saying that nothing happened,” Vargas Lleras said during the debate.
Liberal Party candidate Rafael Pardo said that Ecuadorean justice doesn’t have the jurisdiction to try Santos, and added that people should back Colombian President Alavro Uribe’s support for his former defense minister “because no one can not accept that another country introduces judicial elements that are not within international law.”
Polo Democratico’s Gustavo Petro said that the 2008 raid violated international law and that Colombia needs to rebuild international trust. The former congressman said that the matter should not be an issue of prosecution but of indemnification, and guaranteed that as president he would protect and defend Santos and other government members.
Conservative Party candidate Noemi Sanin said she doesn’t understand foreign intervention in the elections, and promised as president that she would guarantee support and defense to Santos and “the general, soldiers, policemen, who acted in the defense of the lives of all Colombians.”
Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus called Ecuador’s petition “judicial nonsense.”
“It doesn’t make sense to individually penalize an action by the state, although without a doubt there was a violation of international law on the part of Colombia, and Uribe promised that it would not be repeated,” Mockus said.
Santos agreed with Mockus’ statement and thanked the other candidates for their support.
Colombians go to the polls May 30 to elect their next president.