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

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

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...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

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. 

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

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...

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...

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...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...