Colombia‘s presidential candidates Gustavo Petro, Sergio Fajardo and German Vargas Lleras say they will respect the peace agreement between the government and former insurgent group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), while right-wing hardliner Ivan Duque says the agreement needs "structural changes."
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In a televised event organized by Semana magazine and Teleantioquia, the candidates were asked about their positions regarding the peace process: a key issue in the presidential elections.
Gustavo Petro, the leftist candidate heading the Human Colombia movement, said he would maintain the accord because he wouldn’t "tear the peace agreement into pieces."
Other candidates expressed similar views: Vargas Lleras, the former vice president who named his political party after himself, said he had his own doubts about the agreements, but they had already been "cleared out."
Sergio Fajardo, former mayor of Medellin, reaffirmed his compromise with the agreement because "words must be kept and because Colombia needs peace."
The candidates showed their commitment to the peace agreement, which resulted in the demobilization of the FARC and its transformation into a legal political party, ending the longest armed struggle in the Latin American continent.
But Ivan Duque, candidate for the right-wing Democratic Center and protege of former President and Senator-Elect Alvaro Uribe, said he would make "structural modifications to the agreement" because that is his commitment to the Colombian people.
Duque’s politics represent a sector of Colombia’s political sphere, led by Uribe, that opposed the peace agreement from the beginning, preferring to continue a military solution that kept the country in a permanent state of violence, especially in rural areas.
Asked about negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN), the next step in the peace process taking place in Quito, the Ecuadorean capital, Duque said he didn’t agree with "those negotiations and that scam."
Vargas Lleras also rejects the negotiations, saying that "while the negotiations are ongoing in Quito, that organization (ELN) is getting stronger territorially and militarily."
Humberto de la Calle, candidate for the Liberal Party, said he couldn’t make it to the debate in Medellin because of unexpected circumstances.
Duque is currently leading opinion polls for the presidential elections, which will take place on May 27.