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

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

While there is no doubt that the FARC have only a tenuous control over some of their more remote fronts, there is no evidence of any overt dissident faction within the movement at the moment.

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

In October 2012, the US Treasury Department designated the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a transnational criminal organization (TCO). While this assertion seems unfounded, there is one case that illustrates just why the US government is worried about the future.

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 leader Carlos Lechuga Mojica, alias "El Viejo Lin," is one of the most prominent spokesmen for El Salvador's gang truce. InSight Crime co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Mojica in Cojutepeque prison in October 2012 about how the maras view the controversial peace process, which has...

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

When considering the possibilities that the FARC may break apart, the Ivan Rios Bloc is a helpful case study because it is perhaps the weakest of the FARC's divisions in terms of command and control, and therefore runs the highest risk of fragmentation and criminalization.

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

Ricardo Mauricio Menesses Orellana liked horses, and the Pasaquina rodeo was a great opportunity to enjoy a party. He was joined at the event -- which was taking place in the heart of territory controlled by El Salvador's most powerful drug transport group, the Perrones -- by the...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

If we are to believe the Colombian government, the question is not if, but rather when, an end to 50 years of civil conflict will be reached. Yet the promise of President Juan Manuel Santos that peace can be achieved before the end of 2014 is simply...

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

The United States -- which through its antinarcotics, judicial and police attaches was very familiar with the routes used for smuggling, and especially those used for people trafficking and understood that those traffickers are often one and the same -- greeted the new government of Elias Antonio...

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

On May 27, 1964 up to one thousand Colombian soldiers, backed by fighter planes and helicopters, launched an assault against less than fifty guerrillas in the tiny community of Marquetalia. The aim of the operation was to stamp out once and for all the communist threat in...