Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos speaks with the AP

As a historic peace accord nears, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has petitioned the United States to remove the FARC from its list of terrorist organizations and suspend arrest warrants against guerrilla leaders, but warned that those who continue trafficking drugs will be extradited.

Santos made the request during a January 28 interview with the Associated Press (AP) at the presidential palace in Bogotá, saying it would be appropriate for the United States to remove the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de ColombiaFARC) from a State Department list of terrorist organizations once a peace deal is signed.

"If they sign it's because we have a timetable for their disarmament and they have committed themselves to lay down their arms and make this transition to legal life. So I would say yes, I hope that they would be eliminated from the terror list," Santos remarked.

Santos also said he would like for the United States to suspend arrest warrants against the FARC's top leadership. According to the AP, around 50 FARC leaders have been indicted in the United States on drug trafficking charges.

"Any effort by the United States to allow us to apply transitional justice, for example by suspending the arrest warrants, would help us tremendously," Santos said.

Nonetheless, Santos issued a word of caution for FARC members, warning that those who continue to engage in drug trafficking will be extradited.

Santos is set to meet with US President Barack Obama on February 4 during a visit to Washington DC, when he will also meet with Congressional Republicans. On the table for discussion is increasing US aid to Colombia to help fund post-conflict programs.

A self-imposed deadline for reaching a final peace deal has been set for March.

InSight Crime Analysis

The possibility of FARC leaders being extradited to the United States has dogged peace talks since their inception in 2012. Nonetheless, while the FARC do engage in the drug trade as a source of revenue, Santos has been consistent in his reluctance to send guerrilla leaders to the United States to face drug trafficking charges.

To this end, Santos has even pushed for expanding the definition of "political crimes" to include drug trafficking when "it is used as a tool to economically support political ends in an armed conflict." In the FARC's case, such an interpretation is meant to assure guerrilla members they will not be prosecuted for drug crimes after demobilizing; a trade-off between justice and peace Santos sees as necessary in order to secure a final peace deal.

However, as the AP notes, US officials maintain only prosecutors can suspend the arrest warrants against FARC leaders, retaining a degree of uncertainty as to whether or not the US will pursue extradition requests.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of FARC peace

What US officials do control, however, is the designation of the FARC as a foreign terrorist organization -- the removal of which could potentially serve more than just a symbolic gesture of support. That is, such a designation makes it "unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide 'material support or resources'" to the FARC. Presumably, US government agencies and non-governmental organizations will have some role in any future post-conflict scenario in Colombia, raising questions over legal complications if this involves offering services to FARC members and demobilized fighters in their transition to civilian life.

Investigations

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

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

The power of Colombia's elites is founded upon one of the most unequal divisions of land in the world. As of the early 21st century, one percent of landowners own more than half the country's agricultural land.1  Under Spanish rule, Colombia's agriculture was organized on the hacienda...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras is currently one of the most violent countries on the planet that is not at war. The violence is carried out by transnational criminal organizations, local drug trafficking groups, gangs and corrupt security forces, among other actors. Violence is the focal point for the international aid...

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Organized crime and the violence associated with it is the preeminent problem in Latin America and the Caribbean today. The region is currently home to six of the most violent countries in the world that are not at war. Four of those countries are in Central America...

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

In a new report based on extensive field research, InSight Crime and the Asociacion para una Sociedad mas Justa have traced how Honduras' two largest gangs, the MS13 and the Barrio 18, are evolving, and how their current modus operandi has resulted in staggering levels of violence...

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Transnational organized crime likes opportunities and little resistance. Bolivia currently provides both and finds itself at the heart of a new criminal dynamic that threatens national and citizen security in this landlocked Andean nation.

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions...

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...

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Faced with the government's failure to rein in the criminals, communities across crime-besieged Mexico have been trying for years to organize effective civic resistance. Michoacan's vigilantes express the most extreme response by society to date, but other efforts have been less belligerent. In battle-torn cities along the...

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

If Uruguay's proposal to regulate the production, sale and distribution of marijuana is properly implemented and overcomes political and economic hurdles, it could be the most important drug regulation experiment in decades.