The chairman of the Colombian Senate’s Peace Commission has infuriated the conservative opposition stating that loyalists of former President Alvaro Uribe are “the new terrorists.”
During the debate of the constitutional reform that would allow the implementation of peace agreements currently negotiated with FARC rebels, Barrera told the Democratic Center that its membership is “dedicated to stimulating fear. You are spreading terror. And it seems that we are facing the new terrorists of Colombia.”
In response, Senator Alfredo Rangel came out in defense of his party, the Democratic Center, and told Barreras that “today you have insulted and offended us. We are not terrorists. You should know that terrorism is the use of violence for political purposes. I believe Senator Barrera had a slip of the tongue. We demand a redress of what you have just insinuated because in the Democratic Center we deserve respect.”
Senator Jose Obdulio Gaviria, also of the Democratic Center, seconded Rangel, commenting, “Eight years after joining the government, now (the U Party) has become a companion of terrorism,” referring to the fact that the U Party has initiated talks with the FARC, which is considered a terrorist group by the US and the European Union.
The Caucus of the Democratic Center and the leftist Polo Democratic party were the two entities that did not support the peace reform, which was finally approved in the first of eight debates. The new agreements provide powerful features for the president, political participation for the ex-FARC and the creation of a Special Legislative Commission.
The Social Party of National Unity of Colombia, or simply the U Party, has acted as President Juan Manuel Santos’ strongest supporter in Congress and in his presidential bids.
The Democratic Center is the conservative Colombian political party formed by former President Alvaro Uribe to secure the continuity of his political legacy, in opposition to Santos’ U Party.