Colombia: narco-terrorist card in political play

Polemic billboards springing up around Colombia, sponsored by former vice president and potential 2014 presidential candidate, Francisco Santos, ask viewers to guess who killed more cops, deceased drug lord Pablo Escobar or FARC leader Ivan Marquez. One billboard in Medellín recently was bombarded with tomatoes by an angry group of citizens. Despite a pending order from the National Electoral Council to take the billboards down, Santos said he had no intention of doing so. "Don't come to me and say that we are using the pain of the victims," he said. "No, I know and I have worked with the victims," referring to his work for the Pais Libre foundation that defends the rights of kidnapping victims and their families.

"We want peace without impunity," reads the billboard, which appears to be a strategy to turn public opinion against the dialogue with the rebels now underway in Cuba. Santos,  a presidential hopeful with the Puro Centro Democratico party, served under president Álvaro Uribe, who has broken with incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos—the ex-vice president's own cousin—over the peace talks. "They want to conceal the reality: the FARC [committed] crimes identical to [those of] Pablo Escobar," Uribe said regarding the investigation by the National Electoral Council. In the past, Francisco Santos himself has been accused of dealing with illegal paramilitary groups. (Colombia Reports, April 17)

Francisco Santos is also accused of inventing claims of guerilla attacks. The army denied his recentl claims that the FARC killed 33 soldiers in an ambush of a military convoy at Puento Lata in southern Putumayo department. The army accused Santos of "disinformation." (Colombia Reports, April 17)