Amid ongoing unrest inside Colombia’s military over peace talks with rebel group FARC, President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Wednesday that all cases of disloyalty and lack of discipline within the military will be met with expulsion.
Santos suggested that purge will be the consequence of breaching of trust inside the army, in the aftermath of recent events that saw general Ruben Dario Alzate’s captured by the FARC as the highest ranking officer ever detained by the guerrillas in their 50-year history.
The president has found himself embarrassed on a number of occasions as members of the military have been found leaking classified information to opponents of the talks.
“Any official, regardless of how important he is, who shows lack of loyalty and discipline will have to leave the Armed Forces,” said the head of state in an interview with Canal Capital Radio.
Santos strictly denied the potential of demoralization among the troops and rejected the claim of lack of offensives against the guerrilla.
“If you analyze military offensives in the last two years, the number of attacks and the number of guerrilla commanders captured by the army have been very high. What is going on is that the days of famous guerrilla leaders are over, and when a commander is captured his name doesn’t tell anyone anything.”
In the interview, the president spoke of the announcement given by Alzate on Monday, during which the general explained the circumstances of his kidnapping and requested to retire from active duty. Santos commented that although he understands that people would like to hear more detailed and more credible explanations, he himself doesn’t have any reasons not to believe Alzate.
“Alzate recognized that he had made a grave mistake and he resigned with honor. He did the right thing. Everybody knew he had to go. Had he stayed, a lot of people would have protested,” explained the Colombian president.
Furthermore, Santos admitted that Alzate, along with his two companions, put the peace process in danger and jeopardized the state’s institutions.
“After all, he was the first general caught by the guerrilla. The military intelligence didn’t make a mistake, he did.” said the former Minister of Defense.
According to Santos, the FARC didn’t gain anything with the kidnapping and the suspension of the negotiations is entirely their fault. With that being said, he indicated that the chapter has been closed and the idea now is to learn from the unfortunate event in order to make faster progress at the negotiations table.
“We have to speed up. Similar processes have their expiration date and the public opinion has grown weary. More than 60% of Colombians are not aware of the agreements. When they are explained what is happening in Havana, they show their solidarity with the idea of peace process,” concluded Santos before reaffirming that the negotiations will restart sooner rather than later.