The presidential candidate responsible for negotiating a historic peace deal with Marxist FARC guerrillas said Sunday that Colombia is “going to war with our eyes closed.”
The statement of former Vice-President Humberto de la Calle followed a publication in the Wall Street Journal in which a US law enforcement official said the FARC’s political chief was under investigation for drug trafficking.
De la Calle urged authorities not to extradite former guerrilla leaders accused of drug trafficking by US authorities “for reasons of national security.”
The presidential candidate blasted the US-friendly candidates German Vargas and Ivan Duque, and controversial former President Alvaro Uribe, for “betraying and undermining” the peace process that seeks to end more than half a century of violent civil conflict.
The recent arrest and possible extradition of FARC ideologue “Jesus Santrich” on mysterious drug trafficking charges triggered an unprecedented crisis in the country’s peace process.
After US authorities leaked that “Ivan Marquez,” the FARC’s political chief, was also a suspect, the peace process appeared to be on the brink of total collapse.
The way we are going is towards war with our eyes closed.
Humberto de la Calle
Colombia’s chief prosecutor, a loyal ally of both the US and former VP German Vargas, almost immediately rejected the US claims that his office was involved in the Marquez investigation.
“ATTENTION. The prosecutor of #Colombia reiterates that it does not have an investigation for drug trafficking against Iván Márquez, after the signing of the Peace Agreement,” the prosecutor said on Twitter.
— Fiscalía Colombia (@FiscaliaCol) April 29, 2018
The Wall Street Journal said the investigation came from an intercepted cellphone video where the FARC leader was caught speaking to a Mexican drugs trafficker associate. They added that no formal charges against the FARC’s senate leader were filed.
An investigation would be a huge blow to the already fragile peace process, which has been shaken by drug trafficking charges against FARC bigwig “Jesus Santrich.”
Marquez said on Twitter yesterday that Colombia’s chief prosecutor, Nestor Humberto Martinez, a critic of the peace process, was “behind all this.”
De la Calle called on a possible refusal to extradite FARC leaders. “Given national security interests, I believe that it is the Colombian justice system that must examine the evidence,” the former chief negotiator said.
At this moment, it is more important for Colombians to be aware of the disaster that is coming… I ask of the Colombia that has suffered the most to mobilize. And to indifferent urban Colombia, to become aware of the obstacle that war implies for the future of this country as a community of solidarity.
In an interview with Reuters this week he said it would be “perverse” to make amendments to it – something presidential favourite Ivan Duque has said he would do.
The ex-rebel group morphed into a political party last year after agreeing to submit to transitional justice over thousands of war crimes committed by the group.
And there are plenty of FARC members who feel disenfranchised by the state’s failure to follow through with the deal – with many joining violent dissident groups.
The FARC disarmed 14,000 people last year under a 2016 peace deal with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos – ending a half-century civil war which has killed over 265,000 people.