Incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday upheld the redefinition of a “terrorist threat” as an “armed conflict” in a meeting with the Partido de la U, with the Victims Law due for presentation in the final round of debates in the Senate Wednesday.
Uribe maintained his position that recognition of the “armed conflict” would legitimize the FARC position and possibly pave the way under international law to achieve “belligerent” status.
During the debate he also voiced concerns that it is going to “paralyze the fight against those that are not in that recognition, such as the BACRIM [emerging criminal groups].”
In contrast, Samper refuted the notion that the law would provide an obstacle to the military and revealed his pleasure that Santos had received the support of not only his party but also the military themselves.
He explained that it is a legal definition rather than something that changes anything on the ground, stating that “it is a question of a clear definition…because no one is unaware that there has been conflict for 50 years.”
As the debate at times became heated, Samper invited Uribe to “breathe a bit” in order to “allow there to be a dialogue,” before personal assessments of each other’s presidency’s entered the discussion.
Samper said that “for eight years we were concerned by the perpetrators…to demobilize the AUC and combat the FARC. All this I do not criticize but the time has arrived to think of the victims.”
Samper, president between 1994 and 1998, further questioned the Uribe’s definition of a “terrorist,” suggesting that during Uribe’s administration the definition was that a “terrorist is someone who is not with me.”
Uribe countered that it was his government that “gave power to the victims” to make claims, criticizing the Samper’s managing of homicide rates and citing the increased tourist visitors as an example of how Colombia’s international image was transformed during his administration.
The Victims Law, together with its recognition of an “armed conflict,” is expected to enshrined into law within the coming weeks.