The first to speak was Uribe, who on Twitter claimed Santos had surrendered the southwestern Cauca state to the FARC. The rebels have traditionally had a strong presence in the remote state.
“I don’t agree to the fact that he gave Cauca to the FARC, he gave then almost all of Colombia, ” said fellow DC congressman Alvaro Hernan Prada.
According to the House Representative, the FARC is being allowed to perpetuate hostile activity even as the peace talks are taking place.
Prada further stated that only under the presidency of Uribe which “[fought] equally against paramilitaries, rebels, drug traffickers, and those who wanted to damage our country… did we have notions of living in peace.”
While being highly critical about “the form of the talks,” the party remained vague about whether it would be taking part in talks with government peace negotiator Humberto de la Calle, who is doing a round of talks with all parties in Colombia’s congress.
De la Calle had explicitly issued an invitation to the Democratic Center party to be a part of the individual meetings. According to De la Calle, the goal of the private conversations is to provide each party involvement in the peace talks with a chance for individual input.
DC Senator Jose Obdulio Gaviria, a cousin of slain drug lord Pablo Escobar and former presidential adviser, claimed De la Calle was talking to parties individually to avoid talking to Congress.
“We need to do this from here,” Gaviria told his colleagues in the Senate on Tuesday.
“For example, if he asks us if we want peace at any price, we will reply: better not. Peace, respecting the liberal democratic system and the rights of the Colombian people, is welcome,” said Gaviria.
The Senator additionally said that if De la Calle were to meet with the party, he could expect “these strong responses: no to peace at any cost; no to renouncing the legitimate use of force by the State; no to surrendering and capitulation; no to dialogue just for dialogue and irresponsible pacifism; no to the conservative and cowardly language of terror.”
Uribe formed the Democratic Center party in 2013 to independently be able to take part in elections held in March, May and June this year. The former president, the former boss and ally of Santos when he was Defense Minister, has increasingly moved away from his successor’s policies.
Especially leading up to the presidential elections of which DC candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga won the first round, Colombian politics became polarized between a “Santista” camp in favor of the ongoing peace talks, and an “Uribista” camp that sought stricter conditions on rebel group FARC for the talks to be legitimate.
The FARC, formed from a few dozen Marxist peasant rebels in 1964, is Latin America’s largest and oldest-living rebel group. For decades the group financed its revolt with drug trafficking and kidnapping. Political violence in Colombia has left at least 220,000 dead, according to official figures. Some 6 million Colombians are considered victims of this conflict.
- Press releases (Democratic Center)