A senior retired army general and member of the Colombian government’s peace negotiation team reiterated their support for talks with rebel group FARC on Thursday, claiming the existence of false rumors to undermine military support for peace.
Humberto de la Calle, the government’s chief negotiator at ongoing peace talks, and former General Mora, said Wednesday that there had been no talk of reducing the armed forces, nor of demilitarizing peasant reserve areas.
De la Calle and Mora confirmed a statement made by President Juan Manuel Santos in which he revealed that rumors have been circulating that members of the military are being told that the salary will be reduced to a minimum and that police pensions will be taken away and given to demobilized FARC guerrillas.
De la Calle said these rumors were false and were part of somebody’s electoral agenda.
“We are in the midst of a political campaign and it is my duty to warn Colombians about fake versions circulating in the media about what is being discussed in Havana,” he said in a statement from the Presidential Palace in Bogota.
Colombia Reports could not confirm the existence of the alleged rumors.
The government has been negotiating a peace deal with the FARC since November 2012 and the two parties are currently negotiating the third of six points concerning illicit drugs. The first two points involving land issues and political participation have already been agreed upon.
Creating a climate of negative opinion
On Wednesday the government delegation is flying back to Havana, Cuba to resume the latest round of the peace talks.
De la Calle said that the rumors were intended to, “create a climate of negative opinion” about the peace process and “scare Colombians” about its implications for the future of the country.
|“The accurate and complete wording of the agreement’s six points, without omitting a single word, will be known for all Colombians, who in the end must decide whether to accept these agreements.”|
Alongside De la Calle at the conference was the retired army General Jorge Enrique Mora. Breaking protocol by speaking alongside De la Calle, who is usually the sole government spokesperson, Mora denied another alleged set of rumors which would suggest he is leaving the negotiating team.
Mora told members of the Armed Forces and Police they could “should stay safe and calm” and that these institutions have not been the subject of discussion at the talks in Cuba nor will “simply because they are not part of the agenda.”
It is the first time that General Mora has spoken at a press conference of the government negotiating team, and his words were directed to the army towards whom the alleged rumors have been specifically directed.
The last of the six issues involved in the peace talks concerns the implementation, verification and countersignature of the agreement. With regards to this, De la Calle said that, “the accurate and complete wording of the agreement’s six points, without omitting a single word, will be known for all Colombians, who in the end must decide whether to accept these agreements.”