In an ongoing exchange of snides between President Juan Manuel Santos and his predecessor Alvaro Uribe over whether Colombia is facing an “armed conflict” or a “terrorist threat,” Uribe said Sunday there is “no need to recognize terrorists to avoid going to jail.”
The remark was a response to Santos, who on Saturday said that if Colombia did not consider the state’s fight against illegal armed groups an armed conflict, he, Uribe and the military top “would go straight to jail.”
Hardliner Uribe fiercely opposed Santos’ terminology and claims that the president is taking steps toward accepting groups like the FARC and ELN — determined terrorist groups by the U.S. and the European Union — as belligerent forces, which could force Colombia into holding peace talks according to international law.
In a press release, Uribe asked Santos not to take the conflict to international judicial bodies, because the conflict’s “regulations fall within our legal system and apply to our soldiers and policemen unilaterally.”
According to Uribe, rejected Santos’ theory that using the terminology “armed conflict” implies that Colombia’s “armed forces can legitimately take the initiative to attack these groups.”
Instead, Uribe claims that Santos’ terminology will recognize the FARC and ELN as “political actors and will open the door so that they can ask other countries to be determined belligerent” and politically justify their armed insurgency.
Uribe and Santos have increasingly showed friction over matters regarding the country’s conflict, reparation of victims of state violence and relations with neighbor Venezuela.