The thickening web of scandals that has enveloped the Colombian military in recent weeks became the subject of verbal sparring at ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC rebels.
A spokesman for the FARC, Colombia’s largest rebel group, commented on the scandals Thursday, saying that Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon was “not exempt” from the implications of a flurry of reports indicating the military was involved in illegal wiretapping, embezzlement, arms trafficking and obstruction of justice.
“In a decent government, an official of this ilk would have already been removed from office,” said alias “Ivan Marquez,” the leader of the FARC delegation.
This provoked an angry response from government representatives at the talks, being held in Havana, Cuba. Chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said the comments about the defense minister were “unacceptable” and that the FARC should concentrate on making ” less statements and more agreements,” reported W Radio.
De La Calle also insisted that the government’s peace delegation would not lower itself to a verbal boxing match and that the FARC cannot become a judge of the country’s institutions and officials.
This made for a sour end to Thursday’s negotiations, which concluded the 21 round of peace talks. The parties are currently discussing the production and trafficking of narcotics in Colombia, the third of six planned agenda items for the talks, which began in November 2012 and hope to reach an end to an armed conflict that has spanned 50 years.