Colombia’s defense minister on Tuesday said allegations by former president Alvaro Uribe that the government is holding secret peace talks with guerrilla group FARC in Cuba are “false” and “creating a bad atmosphere.”
In response to Uribe’s demand the administration of his successor Juan Manuel Santos responded to the former president’s allegations regarding the allegedly secret talks, Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said “I did not authorize anyone, nor will I authorize anyone to be in such a situation. In no way there are generals active in situations as described” by the Former President.
According to Uribe, talks are being held in Cuba and led by the president’s brother, Enrique Santos, and several high-ranking members of the armed forces.
“Involving generals of the Republic in talks with the guerrillas is equating them with terrorism. It is incompatible while [the FARC] continue to carry out criminal activities. It is confusing the public opinion and demotivating the security forces,” the former president said in a radio interview earlier in the morning.
Pinzon rejected Uribe’s ongoing allegations, saying that “the only thing that statements like this contribute is a bad atmosphere, affecting the discipline that must be maintained in the armed forces.”
Santos, who has been on increasingly bad terms with Uribe after taking office in 2010, has ignored Uribe’s repeated remarks about the alleged peace talks.
The former president first mentioned the alleged peace negotiations with the country’s oldest and largest guerrilla groups on Sunday while speaking in the northern Colombian city of Sincelejo.
Santos has so far publicly rejected talks with the 48-year-old insurgency. In June, the president said it was too soon for peace talks.
“Only when we are absolutely convinced that the circumstances are right that this dialogue will be under our control, then we will think of opening a dialogue,” said the president.
Santos’ predecessor has always openly rejected peace talks with the FARC until the guerrilla group ceases violence. However, in a 2010 diplomatic cable, the U.S. embassy in Bogota reported that the Uribe administration was “preparing ‘roadmaps’ for the next administration on how best to pursue peace agreements with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).
According to the embassy, then-Peace Commissioner Frank Pearl “acknowledged that the GOC had communicated with both groups in order to develop the road maps and build confidence.”
Since then, the Santos administration approved a bill that would allow displaced farmers to return to land stolen primarily by paramilitary groups, one of the demands of the FARC, and the FARC vowed to end kidnapping, one of the demands of the government.
The last open peace talks between the Colombian government and rebels were held between 1999 and 2002.