Colombia’s leading presidential candidates, Juan Manuel Santos and Noemi Sanin, have clashed over Santos’ criticism of potential peace talks with the FARC. Santos has previously supported talks, and the withdrawal of state forces from the south of the country.
In a letter to the Partido de La U candidate, Sanin criticizes Santos’ negative remarks about the 1999-2002 peace talks, in which the FARC were given control over a 16,000 square mile area in the south of the country.
According to leaked reports, Santos was one of the first to promoted the guerrilla safe haven, two years before the peace talks began. But during the current campaign Santos insinuated that other candidates would be tempted to return to “the dark nightmare” of the failed peace talks and the immense gain of territory it meant for the FARC.
In her letter, Sanin stresses Santos’ support for the release of territory to the guerrillas and asks her competitor for the presidency to “speak the truth.”
In response, Santos admitted he had promoted the handover of territory to the FARC, but said that over time he had changed his mind. “Only imbeciles don’t change their mind when the circumstances change,” he stated.
“I believe that in this sense the country knows very well that the situation fifteen or twenty years ago was very different to today, exactly because those thugs of the FARC deceived the Colombian people. Because of this we do not talk about withdrawing one millimeter when it comes to security,” Santos explained.
According to Santos, the Colombian people “aren’t stupid,” and understand that the criticisms are baseless “political attacks.”