Uribe himself has been accusing the government of secretly holding peace talks since Sunday. According to the former president, the talks are being held in Cuba and led by the president’s brother, Enrique Santos, and several high-ranking members of the armed forces.
In an interview with Caracol Radio, the former President said that “involving generals of the Republic in talks with the guerrillas is equating them with terrorism. It is incompatible while [the FARC] continue to carry out criminal activities. It is confusing the public opinion and demotivating the security forces.”
The former president added that, if Santos responded and proved the allegations wrong, “I would be the first to retract.”
Colombia’s Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said Monday she “had no knowledge” of any peace talks with the country’s largest and oldest guerrilla group, reiterating that “this is an issue handled by President Santos.”
Santos, who has been on increasingly bad terms with Uribe after taking office in 2010, has ignored Uribe’s repeated remarks about the alleged peace talks. The Defense Minister and Armed Forces commander general Alejandro Navas also have not commented on Uribe’s accusations.
The former president first mentioned the alleged peace negotiations with the country’s oldest and largest guerrilla groups on Sunday while speaking in the northern Colombian city of Sincelejo.
Santos has so far publicly rejected talks with the 48-year-old insurgency. In June, the president said it was too soon for peace talks.
“Only when we are absolutely convinced that the circumstances are right that this dialogue will be under our control, then we will think of opening a dialogue,” said the president.
Santos’ predecessor has always openly rejected peace talks with the FARC until the guerrilla group ceases violence. However, in a 2010 diplomatic cable, the U.S. embassy in Bogota reported that the Uribe administration was “preparing ‘roadmaps’ for the next administration on how best to pursue peace agreements with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).
According to the embassy, then-Peace Commissioner Frank Pearl “acknowledged that the GOC had communicated with both groups in order to develop the road maps and build confidence.”
Since then, the Santos administration approved a bill that would allow displaced farmers to return to land stolen primarily by paramilitary groups, one of the demands of the FARC, and the FARC vowed to end kidnapping, one of the demands of the government.
The last open peace talks between the Colombian government and rebels were held between 1999 and 2002.