German Vargas, Colombia’s former vice-president who resigned from the position to run for president, reportedly has turned against a war crimes tribunal that is part of an ongoing peace process with Marxist rebels.
The powerful dynasty politician and his coalition party, Radical Change, decided Wednesday to withdraw support for the court that is currently awaiting congressional approval.
The political party announced it would withdraw its support for the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). Political website La Silla Vacia reported that the decision was supported by the presidential candidate.
Both Vargas and his party had unequivocally supported the peace deal so far.
I don’t understand. They and we all knew that a mechanism of transitional justice for peace was proposed in the agreement.
House Representative Hernan Penagos
During a similar transitional justice court in the late 2000s, Radical Change was one of the political parties that was hardest hit by the “parapolitics” scandal that saw dozens of lawmakers and governors convicted for colluding with paramilitary death squads and drug traffickers for electoral gain.
Vargas was investigated for teaming up with warlord “Martin Llanos,” but absolved by a Supreme Court justice now investigated for accepting bribes in order to obstruct those “parapolitics” investigations.
While serving in the cabinet of President Juan Manuel Santos, Vargas went out of his way not to be associated with the internationally supported peace process that seeks to end more than half a century of armed conflict.
The war crimes tribunal has been particularly controversial. The public has had difficulty accepting FARC guerrillas will be able to avoid prison sentences if they tell the truth and repair their victims.
Additionally, thousands of businessmen are expected to be tried for their ties to far-right armed groups during the conflict. The moderately conservative Vargas is trying to present himself as a business-friendly candidate.
Cambio Radical’s decision to withdraw its support from the JEP does not threaten the tribunal’s congressional approval.
It’s not the first time we haven’t been able to count on votes from Radical Change. In previous occasions, even when we couldn’t count on them, we’ve still been able to approve important initiatives.
Interior Minister Guillermo Rivera
The party’s resistance, however, does allow Cambio Radical to seek support from business and voters currently supportive of the Democratic Center, which until Wednesday was the only political party opposing the ongoing peace process.
The hard-right Democratic Center is led by former President Alvaro Uribe, who has long called for justice to be applied only to members of the FARC who committed crimes.