Following years of criticizing Colombia’s ongoing peace talks with rebel group FARC, former President Alvaro Uribe on Monday admitted that his government also attempted to initiate peace talks with the FARC and even offered a demilitarized zone.
Uribe was embarrassed on Sunday after Semana columnist Daniel Coronell published evidence of the Uribe administration’s attempts to negotiate peace with the FARC, offering the rebels a demilitarized zone.
In a series of tweets with the hashtag meaning “Non-negotiable conditions of Uribe,” the hard-line Democratic Center senator said that one of the demands to initiate peace talks was that “the terrorist group FARC verifiably implement a cease of all criminal activity. They didn’t want to.”
With an avalanche of posts on social media and his personal website, Uribe hit back at what he called the “Santos-Coronel [sic] Hoax” after Semana magazine’s Sunday publication of an article by journalist Daniel Coronell. In the piece, Coronell claimed documents he obtained showed that Uribe had offered a demilitarized zone for peace talks with the FARC, exposing his opposition to current talks as highly hypocritical.
Uribe has also been vocal in his opposition to demilitarized zones, claiming they would provide the FARC a military advantage. While the published documents show that the zone would actually have been for more comprehensive peace talks aimed at ending the conflict, Uribe claims that the demilitarized zone would have been for the release of hostages held by the FARC, according to El Espectador. A Swiss negotiator involved in the process confirmed last year that the zone’s purpose would go beyond the hostage release.
One of the other unmet conditions Uribe says he demanded in order to allow the release of hostages was that FARC members released from jail would either have to leave the country or be submit to a “reinsertion” program overseen by the Catholic Church, according to the senator’s website and Twitter feed.
The former president implied to be believe that Santos and Coronell have been working together on the Semana story. Uribe also claims Santos “extended” to Coronell a “TV concession” in order to vilify the former president and his family.
While in office between 2002 and 2010, Uribe led a number of the Colombian state’s most successful offensives against the FARC.
The former president was elected senator in March and is currently leading almost 40 loyal lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Senate.