Colombia’s military expressed their support for President Juan Manuel Santos after it was revealed Friday that retired army officials mentioned his overthrow in a series of emails.
“Today we want to affirm our loyalty and devotion to our duty. We will continue along the path that our constitutional commander has outlined. We will observe the principle of national unity for airmen, sailors, soldiers and police officers,” said the commander of Colombia’s armed forces General Alejandro Navas.“These days there have been some disagreements which fortunately do not represent the feelings of the military community and the police.”
Email correspondence between retired army officials General Eduardo Santos Quiñones and Major Jorge Galvis Noyes surfaced Friday.
In the email, Galvis demanded that President Santos “meet his obligations and electoral commitments, or otherwise be removed from office,” following the May 15 terrorist attack in Bogota that targeted former minster Fernando Londoño.
Quiñones also addressed a letter to Santos, which circulated among his military colleagues, stating that Colombia needs “a real leader.”
General Jaime Ruiz, a spokesperson for the Colombian Association of Retired Officers (ACORE) said the scathing messages were taken out of context.
“It is true that there was talk of removing the president, but all within an institutional framework, not a coup. Fragments were used to make these emails look as if they were plotting a situation of that nature,” Ruiz told Radio Caracol. “All can rest easy because the constitutional order, under all circumstances, remains intact,” he added.
Santos has been the target of criticism — with former President Alvaro Uribe leading the charge — over his handling of illegal armed groups in Colombia. His government’s proposed constitutional reform, entitled the Legal Framework for Peace, would give legal benefits to demobilized guerrillas and paramilitaries. The bill has been a lighting rod for opposition members who feel it would give impunity to those responsible for human rights abuses.
Santos defended the constitutional reform in a press conference Wednesday.