A debate on drugs in Colombia’s Senate descended into a duet of war crime allegations between lawmakers from the far-right and those representing demobilized far-left FARC guerrillas.
Radical members of President Ivan Duque’s Democratic Center (CD) party, including under fire former president Alvaro Uribe, sidetracked from current problems with increased drug consumption and trafficking by leveling insults and accusations at FARC, which was actively involved in drug trafficking until 2016.
The discussion began when center right senator Roy Barreras (U Party) criticized far-right CD senator Paloma Valencia for blaming Colombia’s peace process for the scourge of global cocaine use.
But Valencia and other radical members of the conservative CD seized on the debate to accuse former President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC, which disarmed and became a political party last year, of all kinds of crimes.
In an angry outburst, far right CD senator Carlos Felipe Mejia additionally accused the FARC senators of being guilty of recruiting child soldiers and raping minors, some of the criminal charges pending before a war crimes tribunal that took force earlier this year.
Disgracefully the narcoterrorist group entered Congress without paying one day of prison, without recognizing the crimes they have committed.
Senator Carlos Felipe Mejia via El Tiempo
Julian Gallo, a former FARC guerrilla commander, responded by calling for proof of the accusations and accusing the “uribistas” of trying to conceal war crimes committed by the state and the private sector.
There are political sectors that do not want the truth to be known, especially those who have committed state crimes, using those weapons and that power to commit all kinds of crimes.
FARC Senator Julian Gallo
Both the FARC and Uribe, the leader of the CD, are yet to appear in court over criminal charges related to the drug-fueled war that cost at least 260,000 lives and 80,000 missing persons.
Uribe, who claims his father was killed by FARC, referred to his alleged involvement in the assassination of a human rights leader, claiming that — unlike those who agree to take part in the ongoing peace process — he would be in jail for 40 to 50 years if convicted.
If they end up proving the slander that I was key in the murder of Jesus Maria Valle, I would go to prison for 40 or 50 years and couldn’t come here. While there are seated assassins with high sentences who haven’t spent one day in prison. I would lose my political rights, they don’t.
Senator Alvaro Uribe
The former president and his party have categorically rejected the war crimes tribunal that would allow Uribe and the FARC to evade prison if proven guilty of war-related crimes.
According to Uribe and his most radical followers, Colombia never suffered an armed conflict with multiple victimizers, including the state, but a “narco-terrorist threats” formed by drug traffickers like Pablo Escobar and Marxist groups like the demobilized FARC and ELN, which is still active.
Moderate senators were able to calm the situation, and the allow the debate to return to its original topic: the increase in both cocaine production and drug use in Colombia.