“This hurts us a lot,” Uribe began, during a press conference at the Casa de Nariño. “This shows us that the fight cannot be suspended. Colombians must remember what has happened and what could still happen.”
Uribe went on to stress that, “Colombia cannot commit the mistake of neglecting the policy of security,” which he said is “not only for preaching, but for administering, every single day.”
Uribe called the press conference on Monday after nine Colombian marines were killed, two were injured, and one went missing, in a confrontation with FARC insurgents on Sunday in the southern Amazonian department of Caqueta.
According to media reports, which called the incident the worst day for the Colombian military since November 2009, a group of marines from the Southern Naval Force discovered a FARC camp in the municipality of Solano, and attacked it on Sunday night, but were ambushed by FARC guerrillas who were apparently expecting the strike.
Uribe’s comments at the press conference echo remarks he made via his Twitter page on Monday, in which he called on Colombians not to “change the hen that cares for the three eggs of security, confidence in investment, and social policy, because the change might damage them.”
By Colombian law, it is illegal for the president to attempt to influence public elections, but the comments appear to be indirect references to the nation’s upcoming presidential elections. The elections are expected to be a close race between Partido de la U’s Juan Manuel Santos, Uribe’s unofficial protege and former defense minister, who promises to continue Uribe’s security policies, and the Green Party’s Antanas Mockus, whose platform is focused on change. Mockus has been criticized by Uribe, who expressed concern that democratic security would flounder under the former mayor’s leadership.
In April, independent electoral observers sent a letter to the president, warning him not to attempt to influence the upcoming presidential election results.