Colombian Green Party presidential candidate Antanas Mockus is under fire from critics including incumbent President Uribe, who questioned Thursday whether the self-proclaimed pacifist would continue the “democratic security” policy if elected president.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was asked in a radio interview whether he thought Mockus, if elected, would continue with “democratic security;” a set of hardline policies implemented by Uribe to combat guerrillas and the drug trade.
“I can’t refer to any candidates in particular, but I remember that 7th of August in 2002, when the government in power [Uribe’s] was almost murdered in Bogota … It’s very serious when some people in the country, who allowed the guerrilla and the paramilitarism to grow and didn’t fight them, today present themselves as honest, as enemies of politicking, in order to aspire to the presidency” Uribe responded.
Uribe was referring to an attempt by the FARC to assassinate him and his government in Bogota while Mockus was mayor of the city, and insinuating that the attack was the result of weak security in the capital.
Uribe’s comments follow criticism of Mockus by the president’s protege Andres Felipe “Uribito” Arias.
“The FARC are waiting for the 7th of August [Uribe’s last day in office] to throw a party in the country, which is why I’m seeking a coalition [between the Conservative Party and Partido de la U] because the guerrilla won’t be defeated with mimes or sunflowers,” Arias said Wednesday.
During his time as Bogota mayor, Mockus hired 20 mimes to poke fun at traffic violators, because he believed that Colombians were more afraid of being ridiculed than being fined. The sunflower is the symbol of the Green Party.
Arias stressed that he believes it is crucial for Colombia to continue Uribe’s democratic security policy.
“Yes, I am capable of fighting the FARC,” Mockus said Thursday in response to Uribe’s criticisms.
The Green Party candidate responded to the criticism, saying “Uribe ignores his own judgement, since after working for eleven months together on the issue of how to protect Bogota and [the department of] Cundinamarca against terrorism, he awarded me and emphasized my work on security, and now he says this.”
“President Uribe should be reassured that his inheritance and legacy in advances in security will be conserved as a priority in my government,” Mockus said.
Mockus speculated that the uribistas’ criticism of his policies is a sign that they feel threatened by his campaign and the possibility that he may win the election.
Criticism of Mockus has increased since a poll released last week, which indicates that popular support for Mockus is on the rise.
Colombia’s presidential elections are scheduled for May 30.