Santos decided to change the rhetoric from that of his predecessor in order to give legal shape to the compensation of victims of violence by guerrillas, paramilitary groups and the state’s armed forces.
According to Santos, the terminological change aims to exclude victims of common crime of the benefits intended for victims of violence between the state and illegal armed groups, and will be included as a concept in the Victims Law.
“For a while there has been conflict in this country,” Santos replied from Tumaco, in the southern Nariño department, after being questioned about the reclassification of Colombia facing a “terrorist threat” to an “armed conflict.”
Having worked to get the international community to recognize the guerrillas as terrorists, Uribe is now concerned that this terminology brings legitimacy to guerrilla groups fighting the Colombian state and demonstrated his disagreement by tweeting a series of critical responses to Santos’ remarks:
“Democratic Security: terrorists do not qualify for belligerent status elements. Why open the door for them?”
“Democratic Security: There is no legal reason to link victim reparation with recognition of terrorists.”
“Democratic Security: Those who threaten the life, honor and property of the civil population are not in conflict with the state. They are a criminal threat.”
Acknowledging that several other Latin American guerrilla groups in the past were recognized and legitimized because they were fighting against dictatorships, he questioned “In Colombia have they been fighting against a dictatorship or have they abused the state of law? They have been abusing the state of law for years.”
Under the hardline policies of Uribe and pressure by paramilitary groups, Colombian rebel groups like the FARC and ELN — fighting the state since 1964 and considered terrorist groups after 2001 — were forced out of the country’s cities and into the jungle and rural areas. The paramilitary groups — also dubbed “terrorists” by the U.S. and Europe — officially demobilized in 2006.
The fourth and final debate in the Colombian Senate regarding the Victims Law is due to take place Thursday.