MEDELLIN, Colombia – Colombia’s hardline ex-president Alvaro Uribe launched a nationwide signature-gathering campaign on Saturday against the peace agreements reached by the current government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which he says entail impunity for the guerrillas.
Under the initiative “For The Peace We Want,” more than 100 tables were set up nationwide to gather signatures in support of his controversial call for “civil resistance” to the agreements, which are the product of three and a half years of talks between President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration and the FARC in Havana.
“Many Colombians have come to sign this letter because ... we don’t accept that under the agreements in Havana kidnappers, drug traffickers and rapists of girls won’t spend one day in prison and will also have political eligibility,” Uribe said in Medellin, Colombia’s second city.
The Colombian government and the FARC have reached agreement on several key issues, including land reform, political participation for former rebels, the elimination of illicit drug production and redress for the nearly 7 million victims of the strife.
The two sides only need to reach consensus on the final point on the agenda, the FARC’s disarmament and demobilization, to clear the way for the signing of a final deal.
Uribe, who governed from 2002 to 2010, says its transitional justice mechanism will allow guerrillas to enjoy impunity for their crimes.
Santos, who served as Uribe’s defense minister from 2006 to 2009, vehemently disputes that claim.
The former president also railed against Santos’ plans for a referendum on the eventual peace deal.
“If Colombians are asked if they want peace, everyone will say ‘yes,’ but if citizens are asked: ‘Do you accept that under the accord in Havana those responsible for kidnapping children, raping girls (and) drug trafficking won’t go to prison and will be elected?’ Many of us will have to say: ‘We want peace, but we don’t accept that impunity because it creates more violence,’” Uribe said.
The signature drive will run until Aug. 4.