Four of the five vice presidential candidates took to the floor of Colombia’s Senate Tuesday to outline their running mates’ proposals and views approaching May’s presidential elections. Presidential candidate Enrique Peñalosa‘s VP pick, Isabel Segovia, did not attend.
Aida Avella, Camilo Gomez, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, and German Vargas Lleras — vice presidential candidates of presidential hopefuls Clara Lopez, Marta Lucia Ramirez, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, and President Juan Manuel Santos respectively — exchanged opinions in front of Colombia’s legislature to make sure that lawmakers and citizens “become familiar” with their positions, according to La FM radio station.
The late-evening televised debate focused heavily on ongoing peace talks between the government and Colombia’s oldest living rebel group the FARC.
The dialogues, which began in November 2012 — and have yet to reach agreements on even three subjects — have become the hallmark of President Santos’ first term in office, and re-election campaign.
To little surprise, Vargas Lleras defended the peace talks and the current status quo, and attacked claims that guerrillas would be given impunity if a peace accord were to be reached.
“Where did you get that the guerrillas are going to have total impunity, from the wiretaps?” Santos’ VP pick asked of Trujillo.
Vargas Lleras’ biting question toward Zuluaga’s running mate referred to a scandal last week involving the wiretapping of said peace talks, which implicated the Democratic Center (Centro Democratico – CD) candidate’s campaign chief, prompting his resignation.
Balking at the wiretaps comment, Trujillo returned to the Zuluaga talking points that no negotiation should take place until a cease fire is agreed to.
“Peace yes, but with justice and jail time for those responsible for crimes against humanity!” said Trujillo.
Leftist Aida Avella jumped in with her signature calm tone to challenge Trujillo saying that there have also been many violations of human rights in Colombia separate of the FARC.
Clara Lopez’s running mate affirmed that her party supports the peace dialogues as long as they are defined in terms of “social transformations.”
Finally, Ramirez’s Gomez said that there “are no real signs of peace in the guerrillas,” and asserted that they are just being used as a re-election tool by President Santos at this point.
Ramirez has said that she would seek an alternate format of peace dialogues if elected.
All candidates emphasized the importance of education reform, as well as boosting security to combat violence across the country.
Isabel Segovia was notably absent, and though she excused herself, the Green Alliance (Aliazna Verde – AV) vice presidential candidate did not provide a reason why she did not attend, according to local media.