REVEALED: Fearing Extradition, FARC Guerillas Reach Out to U.S. Authorities (El Espectador, Colombia)
With the Colombian government and FARC rebels nearing the end game for the rebel group’s 50-year insurgency, Colombia’s El Espectador is reporting that the guerrillas are nervous. According to this article by reporters María del Rosario Arrazola and Juan David Laverde Palma, before laying down their arms, FARC commanders want assurances from Washington that they will not be extradited to the United States.
For El Espectador, María del Rosario Arrazola and Juan David Laverde Palma begin their detailed description of the state of negotiations now taking place in of all places, Havana, Cuba, this way:
El Espectador has discovered that the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] are seeking informal channels through third parties connected with the U.S. Embassy in order to put two issues on the table: the likelihood of extradition to the United States if a peace treaty is signed; and the possible inclusion of convicted FARC commander Ricardo Palmera Pineda, alias Simón Trinidad, in the talks undertaken in Cuba. The sources consulted by this newspaper insist that these contacts have been sporadic and very basic, the main reason being “taking the temperature of the United States with respect to the process.”
Although it may sound farfetched and no one has spoken officially of these rapprochements, it is certain that they exist. The case of Simón Trinidad has been completely rejected. “There’s nothing to negotiate about there,” a high-level source told El Espectador. This was in reference to the legal fate of the guerrilla commander – arrested January 2, 2004 and extradited to the United States on December 30 of that year – which was sealed with his sentence of 60 years in prison. The official position of the U.S. government is unchanged: to support the peace process. With respect to extraditions, that issue must be resolved by the Colombian government in its capacity as a sovereign nation.
Meanwhile, it is clear that in parallel with negotiations in Havana, the FARC is aware that if a peace treaty is signed and the guerrillas give up their weapons to return to civil society, they need further assurances that their fates will not be those of extradited [right-wing] paramilitary commanders who also negotiated with the government and are now serving sentences of up to 30 years for their proven links to drug trafficking. On April 29, 2005, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia [Washington] ordered the extradition of 49 FARC leaders on charges of narcotics trafficking. It was documented that the defendants controlled the entire illegal trade process.
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