In a surprise debate in Colombia’s Congress, the ruling coalition accused senator and former President Alvaro Uribe of hypocrisy, pointing out the that former president was making similar concessions to rebel groups as the ones he is criticizing of his successor, President Juan Manuel Santos.
Uribe, who has been highly critical of Santos for “capitulating to terrorism” in the peace talks with the FARC, has been accused of being even “more generous” to the guerrilla group in his attempts at peace than the current administration.
“Uribe offered demilitarized zones, seats in Congress, the elimination of extradition, contracts to finance the guerrillas… and authorized security corridors,” Santos’ ally Roy Barreras said, according to El Espectador.
“The only difference is that at that time no one committed the irresponsibility of leaking this information like senator Uribe is doing now,” he added.
This, Santos’ allies in Congress said, shows that Uribe had “deceived” the country with his objections to the peace process.
In his response, Uribe claimed that all of the information revealed about his administration’s peace attempts is known and publicly available.
Bilateral ceasefire, demilitarized zone, no extradition
Earlier this month it was revealed by Semana columnist Daniel Coronell that in 2006 Uribe offered to demilitarize an area for talks and block the extradition of rebel leaders. The report was based on documents obtained by the journalist, a long-time critic of the former President.
Then-Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo, now on the run from justice for faking the demobilization of a FARC unit days before the 2006 elections, was put in charge of the talks with the FARC.
Uribe, however, was also personally involved in several meetings that were supposed to secure contact between the Presidential Palace and senior FARC commander Pablo Catatumbo, who is currently in Cuba taking part in peace talks with the Santos administration.
A bilateral ceasefire was also to be part of the discussions with the FARC, an offer Santos has refused to make during the two years of negotiations in Havana.
Congressional seats, reduced penalties
This week, newly published documents showed that Uribe offered the FARC congressional seats, an offer he has defended by saying it complied with Constitution by only applying to those who committed political crimes, according to Semana.
“If a peace agreement require they [the FARC] go to Congress, this obstacle certainly will have to become a constitutional norm,” a 2006 letter from the Uribe administration to negotiator Henry Acosta read.
Uribe has also admitted to offering reduced penalties to the rebel group, and claimed that Santos has yet to say if the his offer would include those accused of crimes against humanity.
Despite the evidence of the extensive offers that Uribe made to the FARC in the attempt to negotiate a peace agreement, the former President maintains that Santos’ offers go farther.
On his prolific Twitter feed, Uribe said that “despite the traps, false courtesies, and provocations, we will remain firm to avoid handing the country over to the FARC.”