Thousands took to the streets across Colombia on Saturday to reject possible impunity for crimes committed by the FARC, the country’s largest rebel group that is negotiating a peace deal with the government to end 50 years of war.
The protesters mainly consisted of supporters of former President Alvaro Uribe, one of the most vociferous critics of the talks.
Uribe and his followers fear that the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, representing the state in the talks, is offering impunity in exchange for an end to guerrilla violence.
The last peace process held in Colombia was that of the right-wing AUC, a paramilitary organization with strong ties to the country’s political elite. This process, led by Uribe between 2003 and 2006, has been criticized for failing to provide justice to victims.
Uribe, his political allies and his supporters demand “peace without impunity” and want the FARC to be held responsible for crimes committed by the rebels in their 50 years of existence. They have opposed amnesty for the rebels.
The biggest march was held in Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city, where local organizers claimed to have mobilized 2,000 protesters. Among the protesters were Uribe and a number of his closest political allies. In spite of heavy rains, hundreds took part in a protest on a central Bolivar Square in the capital Bogota.
Following the march, a virtual fight broke out between Uribe’s Democratic Center and the son of the president, who pointed out on Twitter that photos of massive marches published by the Uribe and former vice-President Francisco Santos, a cousin of the president, were in fact photos of pro-peace talks marches organized by the government earlier this year.
Both Uribe and Santos subsequently removed the fake photos from their accounts and published others .
The protests were publicly ignored by the government and the FARC.