Conservative presidential candidate Marta Lucia Ramirez said she is planning to renegotiate peace talks with rebel group FARC in the event she is elected the country’s first-ever female president in May.
“I cannot accept such dialogues with such brutality,” Ramirez told Colombia Reports in an interview.
According to the presidential hopeful of the Conservative Party (Partido Conservador – PC), the ongoing talks in Cuba must be renegotiated as they “have not produced one concrete result” since dialogues between the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos and delegates of the country’s largest rebel group.
Ramirez told this website that the talks can not continue “while they continue to recruit children, plant bombs, and lay mines that affect our civil population.”
“I want dialogues that advance, that end terrorism,” said the candidate.
|“We cannot accept negotiations with the [ongoing] recruitment of 12-year-old children and we cannot accept negotiations with infinite timings, we have to put limits…I am ready to make a negotiation with a four-month deadline from its start.”|
“No impunity for FARC”
Ramirez spelled out her conditions for a new or reformed series of peace talks with the FARC, which include time limits, demobilization, an immediate end to child recruitment, and no impunity for demobilized FARC leaders accused and sentenced for war crimes.
“We cannot accept negotiations with the [ongoing] recruitment of 12-year-old children and we cannot accept negotiations with infinite timings, we have to put limits…I am ready to make a negotiation with a four-month deadline from its start,” asserted the Bogota native.
“In those four months there would be justice, not impunity. There would be security during which [Colombians] would not see mines, nor deaths of soldiers, nor policemen, nor [child] recruitment.”
Ramirez concluded the subject insisting, “I do not accept dialogues that simultaneously make terrorism.”
Hard on Santos
The peace talks provided a natural segue into a discussion about what distinguishes Ramirez from Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, the Democratic Center candidate endorsed by former President Alvaro Uribe, and from Santos, who is promoting the continuation of the negotiations with the rebels.
|“President Santos has spoken much about peace, but he has not mentioned what is necessary for peace. He has spoken of peace, but he has abandoned justice and there cannot be peace without justice. He has spoken of peace, but he has abandoned rural Colombia and there cannot be peace if the rural Colombian is dying in misery.”|
Uribe’s party went from zero to 19 seats in the Senate in March’s Congressional elections while Ramirez remains far behind on Zuluaga in the polls.
To make Ramirez’ bid even more complicated, the conservative leadership decided to stay in Santos’ governing coalition and — unlike its candidate — has consistently supported Santos’ talks with the FARC.
The stand-off between Santos and Uribe, and her own party’s refusal to remove itself from the government coalition’s shadow has left Ramirez barely visible in the polls.
Still, when asked what the differences between the three candidates were, the conservative candidate was quick to attack the incumbent and easier on Zuluaga.
“President Santos has spoken much about peace, but he has not mentioned what is necessary for peace. He has spoken of peace, but he has abandoned justice and there cannot be peace without justice. He has spoken of peace, but he has abandoned rural Colombia and there cannot be peace if the rural Colombian is dying in misery,” Ramirez told this website.
Ramirez concluded her diatribe against Santos saying that “if the farmer is dying in misery, there is going to be drug trafficking again, paramilitarism again, and the guerrillas will take hold of Colombian territory. The president has allowed the flourishing of corruption and this goes against peace as well, because the money that the corrupt steal, takes away the health and security of Colombians.”
…and soft on Zuluaga
|“Oscar Ivan Zuluaga is a very competent man. He has many capabilities, but he is still not working on a project for an institution, but rather a very personalized project.”|
When considering Zuluaga as a presidential candidate however, Ramirez’ tone was considerably less severe.
“Oscar Ivan Zuluaga is a very competent man. He has many capabilities, but he is still not working on a project for an institution, but rather a very personalized project,” she said, referring to Zuluaga running on a platform centered around the person of Uribe.
Ramirez added that while she believes “very much in the leadership of ex-president Uribe,” any political platform that is “dependent” on the now senator-elect “can have risks in the future.”
“My project is supporting a political institution: that of the Conservative Party. It has a base and an organization that has similarities with those of Oscar Ivan, because we are committed to security,” concluded the Conservative Party candidate.
Getting the word out
|“[Our biggest challenge] right now is to deliver our message to Colombians: our message of integrity, security, and liberty for each and every Colombian.”|
Facing consistently poor polling numbers across pollsters, Ramirez rounded out her interview with Colombia Reports saying that her campaign’s priority now is to get the word out to Colombians.
“[Our biggest challenge] right now is to deliver our message to Colombians: our message of integrity, security, and liberty for each and every Colombian,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez wants to stimulate Colombia’s ailing manufacturing sector that has seen dropping output amid growing competition from other developing countries. Additionally, the conservative presidential hopeful wants to continue promoting the development of technology.
What Colombia needs, said Ramirez, is “a state that guarantees the rule of law and that guarantees Colombians the opportunities of education and of work. Because in this globalization, Colombia has much to offer the world: nutritional security, processed food, manufacturers, services of high technology.”
Ramirez served as a senator from 2006-2009, as former President Alvaro Uribe’s Defense Minister –the first woman to ever hold that position in Colombia and second woman to hold such a position in Latin America–from 2002-2003, and as the Minister of Foreign Trade from 1998-2002. Throughout her career, Ramirez also held a number of private sector positions as a successful lawyer, a bank director, and the CEO and founder of two self-named consulting companies.
- Interview with Marta Lucia Ramirez