CORAL GABLES, FL -- The man who led Colombia through eight years of Latin America's longest-running armed conflict said the recent pledge to sign a peace treaty that would end the war is a bad deal for his country.
Senator Alvaro Uribe spoke at the University of Miami Friday in Coral Gables. He was president when FARC, then a 21,000-strong guerilla group fueled by millions of dollars in profits from the sale of narcotics, controlled large rural areas of the country. The FARC has been blamed for murders, kidnappings and bombings across the South American country and was labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
Uribe fiercely disagrees with the deal his former friend and current president Juan Manuel Santos made with leftist guerilla commanders in September following 3 years of negotiations in Havana.
It calls for a ceasefire and for signing a peace agreement within 6 months, details of which have yet to be ironed out. What has been made clear is that the FARC would become a political party and take part in elections.
The former president, whose 50-year-old father was shot to death by members of the FARC in 1983, said any agreement with the group now should be brought to justice for all the murders committed over 70 years of war.
"If you told me the small-time guerrilla member should not be put in jail, I would accept that, but why wouldn't you put in prison the kingpins?," Uribe said. "The U.S. would not give a skip jail pass to members of Al Qaeda," Uribe added.
The former president's critics have said it's time for him to retire from politics and allow the preliminary peace agreement become permanent.
Uribe, 63, says it's his duty to be involved in his country's future. "It's not enough for me to write letters and tweets; I already write too many," he said as the packed room broke into laughter. "I grew up witnessing the transition from political violence to narco violence," he said. "It's important to be part of the daily political battle."