Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos has said he will seek to prevent US extradition for leaders of guerrilla group the FARC, in a move that will stoke the country's vociferous opposition, but which the United States might be open to. 

"No one is going to turn in their weapons to go die in a North American prison. That's completely unrealistic," Santos said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais. Colombia's President will personally work with the United States to find a solution, he added. 

When questioned as to how guerrilla leaders might be punished within Colombia, Santos was less direct, stating the difficulty of drawing a line between justice and peace, and adding that the former should not impede the latter. Santos left open the possibility of house arrest instead of prison for guerrilla leaders, calling it "something that we could bring ourselves to agreement on."   

InSight Crime Analysis

The Santos administration has officially been in peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest left-wing guerrilla group, for more than two years. How rebel leaders should be held accountable for alleged acts of terrorism and drug trafficking committed during more than 50 years of conflict has been a major issue overshadowing the talks. Complicating the matter are standing extradition orders for multiple FARC leaders, primarily related to drug trafficking, as well as several leaders already imprisoned in the United States.

While US officials have yet to speak on Santos' comments, it is plausible they would consider flexibility on these extradition orders. Not only does Colombia represent a key regional ally and major recipient of US aid and investment, but the United States has already shown signs of softening its approach to the guerrillas. US Special Envoy Bernard Aronson reportedly met with members of the FARC delegation on both February 28 and March 1, with few details yet emerging from the behind-closed-doors meeting in Cuba.     

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

However, while the US may be willing to work with Santos, he still faces opposition at home from the vocal ultra-conservative opposition led by former-President Alvaro Uribe, who recently visited the United States in an apparent attempt to whip up opposition to the talks among US lawmakers.

As part of Colombia's proposed peace process, any deal agreed between the FARC and the government must also be voted on by the Colombian people, making the public relations battle extremely important and US input potentially influential.  

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

In the photograph, they are both smiling. In the foreground, on the left hand side, a man in a short-sleeved buttoned white shirt, jeans and a metal watch, holds a bottle of water in his right hand. He laughs heartily. He is Herbert Saca. On the right...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...