Colombian presidential candidate, Antanas Mockus, declared in a televised debate this weekend that he would never pursue guerrilla groups into the sovereign territory of a neighboring country, even if there was evidence such groups were operating there. However, Mockus also reiterated his view that insurgent groups like the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) must be “cornered and finished” and remained steadfast that dialogue with the guerillas would not occur while the FARC continued engaging in kidnapping.
In 2008, President Álvaro Uribe was criticized for allowing a military incursion into Ecuador while pursuing FARC guerillas. The action, which killed 25 FARC members, including their second-in-command, Raul Reyes, also led to a diplomatic dispute between Colombia and its neighbors.
Mockus, the Partido Verde candidate, has come under increased questioning ahead of the May 30 elections, particularly on security issues—pressure that is a result of him narrowing the gap with frontrunner Juan Manuel Santos to only 10 percentage points in recent weeks. Supporters of former Minister of Defense Santos, widely considered the hand-picked successor of President Uribe, have begun to question Mockus’ resolve to uphold the “democratic security” policies implemented by the current administration.
President Uribe has also recently raised questions about Mockus’ ability to deal with the FARC and even insinuated that an assassination attempt against him in Bogotá in August 2002 resulted, in part, from weak security measures implemented by Mockus. He has been responding to such criticisms by pointing out that President Uribe himself has, as recently as 11 months ago, lauded the former mayor’s work on security and terrorism.
Viewers of the debate declared Mockus the clear winner of the evening in an online poll conducted by colombiaelige2010.com and elespectator.com, with Gustavo Petro in second place and Juan Manuel Santos in third.