The divisive former president has been one of the loudest critics of the current administration’s handling of the ongoing peace talks between the government and Colombia’s oldest guerrilla group.
Santos made the assertion in a speech before the national assembly of the U Party of which both Uribe and Santos are members.
“What we did was continue what we were doing in the previous government,” said the president, who served as Uribe’s defense minister. Santos said that under Uribe, preliminary negotiations with the FARC were so advanced that four neutral sites were chosen to hold potential peace talks and Brazil had even been asked to be an intermediary.
Santos’ comments were in direct response to Uribe’s criticisms that the current administration shows more interest in dialogue with “terrorism” than national security.
Uribe-loyal members of Santos’ own U Party have condemned the peace talks and the framework they are operating under, claiming that known human rights abusers will essentially be granted pardons, something Human Rights Watch is also weary of.
The president stated that the government is not thinking of impunity in regards to the guerrillas, but of “transitional justice.” Santos reiterated that this process has been made so that if it fails, “it does not cost the people anything, but suddenly costs me politically.”
Santos said he couldn’t understand how Uribe and loyalists could act horrified by the current government’s peace initiative, “when they sought the same [thing] for five years.”
“For five years [we] negotiated in Cuba and now they say, how are we going to talk to terrorists?”
Still, Santos said he harbors no “resentment or hatred” for his estranged former boss.
“I do not come to a fist fight, or as a thug…to prove who rules the neighborhood. I come to this assembly as a member,” the President said before members of the U Party.
“It is a great fallacy to say that I am a wolf in sheep’s clothing. [I’m doing] exactly [what] I promised the people of Colombia.”