Hard-line Colombia presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga on Sunday said the FARC’s recent commitment to a truth commission, and the recognition and reparation of their victims, is not enough for a peace agreement.
|Colombia’s 2014 elections|
In several public performances, Zuluaga criticized the agreement between rebel and government negotiators to begin recognizing their role as victimizers in the 50-year-long armed conflict.
Additionally, the negotiators on Saturday invited a delegation of victims’ organizations to take part in the negotiations that are currently dealing with victims after having agreed on previous topics like rural reform, political participation.
Additionally, the two parties agreed to a truth commission to establish the causes and culprits of the violence that has ravished Colombia since 1964.
However, according to Zuluaga this isn’t enough. The hard-liner want the FARC to admit to being the main culprit of the violence.
This position is opposite to that of the rebels who, also after signing an agreement to recognize their responsibility, said that “the State is ultimately responsible due to its action or inaction.”
“The victims do not only come from the armed conflict and the errors of war; The economic and social policies are the worst victimizers as they have caused the majority of deaths in Colombia,” said chief rebel negotiator “Ivan Marquez” immediately after the formal presentation of the agreement in Havana, Cuba.
Conflict-related kidnappings (1970-2010)
Military attacks on civilian targets (1988-2012)
Terrorist attacks (1988-2012)
Zuluaga disagreed and claimed that “the FARC rebels are the primary victimizers in Colombia, with all the murders and terrorism they have committed in all these years of massacres,” Zuluaga responded while on campaign trail in the southwestern state of Huila, according to El Tiempo newspaper.
According to the National Center for Historic Memory (NCMH), the FARC are the second most lethal group in the history of the armed conflict that allegedly killed 220,000 Colombians since 1956.
Paramilitary groups that operated to variable extent in conjunction with the authorities between the late 1980s and 2006 committed 9,903 homicides, twice as many as the FARC. The paramilitaries additionally committed four times the number of massacres that in total have left almost 12,000 Colombians dead since 1985.
A number of allies of Zuluaga, including his political patron Alvaro Uribe, have been accused of having used these paramilitary groups for their political and economic benefit. Dozens of former congressmen have been sent to prison for their ties to paramilitary groups.
Guerrilla groups like the FARC and ELN did commit by far the most terrorist attacks, leaving 223 Colombians dead and another 1,343 injured since 1988. The rebels also committed most kidnappings — 24,492 since 1970, the NCMH said in its report released last year. Hundreds of these kidnap victims are assumed dead.
The guerrillas are also held responsible for most military offensives against civilian targets that left more than 200 dead since 1988.
In his last speech before the end of the campaign, Zuluaga said he was sad that his rival, incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos “has been seeking reelection with his biggest ally being the principal victimizers, a narco-trafficking cartel, and a terrorist group.”
The Democratic Center Party candidate recently announced that if elected president, he would continue the government peace talks currently underway in Cuba with the FARC rebels. However, as a condition he has said to want the FARC to agree to a number of conditions that include an immediate ceasefire, the end to the recruitment of child soldiers and the release of maps indicating where landmines have been buried.
Particularly the political left has seen this as a reckless and a threat to the prospects of peace. In response to Zuluaga’s success in the first round, a number of prominent leftist politicians and columnists have reluctantly endorsed the incumbent who has made ending the conflict his primary his primary goal.
Zuluaga additionally criticized Santos claiming that the incumbent president has not “demanded the handover of weapons, and the handing over of wealth acquired by the guerrilla group from nacro-trafficking and kidnappings to help victims,” according to El Tiempo.
Zuluaga was quoted as saying by Caracol Radio that “we should optimistically wait if they commit, but it has always been the same, the FARC always say one thing and do another.”
The conservative candidate continued to highlight the rebel’s lack of reliability by referencing “the ceasefire that took place during the first round which they didn’t honor and committed terrorist attacks in different zones of the country affecting public order.”
Paz Y Reconciliacion, an NGO monitoring the armed conflict, said recently that FARC rebels honored the ceasefire close to 100% if it was not for defense action they took against military assaults.
The public rallies of both Santos and Zuluaga over the weekend were the last until Sunday’s election.
Colombian law prohibits political gatherings in the week leading up to polls. The candidates are allowed to take part in television debates organized by national television.
According to the most recent polls, there is no saying who will be the winner on Sunday evening.
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