Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos said Monday he repeats this mantra to himself everyday: “Don’t fight with Uribe, don’t fight with Uribe, don’t fight with Uribe.”
President Juan Manuel Santos referred, of course, to the ongoing political spat with his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe. The war of words between Colombia’s past and current presidents has gotten so bad a group of scholars and politicians announced they will convene Wednesday to attempt to resolve differences between the two political leaders, which they worry could create a permanent rift in the country’s liberal conservative U Party, of which the two presidents are members.
Santos joked about the embarrassing squabble in an interview with the Spanish branch of the Huffington Post, saying he would not respond in kind to Uribe’s now-famous Tweets expressing disappointment with Santos’ presidential performance. “I have a mantra that I repeat every day: NoPeCu, NoPeCu,” Santos said in the interview. “No pelear con Uribe. Do not fight with Uribe, do not fight with Uribe.”
“If I joined the fight, the whole country would lose,” he added.
Ex-president Uribe has been vocal in his criticisms of Santos, a former ally and once the star defense minister under Uribe’s administration. Uribe’s beef, clear to see on his frequently updated Twitter account, stems primarily from Santos’ defense policy, which Uribe says is soft on guerrilla groups.
Uribe has also railed against Santos’ improved relations with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Santos defended his relationship with Chavez, who “has a great sense of humor,” he said in the interview. “We think in completely different ways, but one day we agreed to respect our differences…. It doesn’t mean I’m going to become a Bolivarian revolutionary [like Chavez].”
Santos spoke to Huffington Post reporter Montserrat Dominguez on his so-called “Tour of Colombia,” which he and his ministers are making to defend Santos’ record after two years in office and improve his slumping approval ratings, which are now at 44% among urban voters.