United States President Barack Obama will not pardon prominent FARC leader “Simon Trinidad” as one of his final actions in office, despite the demobilizing guerrillas’ demands to repatriate their fellow-rebel.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, a source closely familiar with the case at the US State Department indicated that neither his release nor a possible jail transfer are matters under consideration.
The FARC senior ideologue is currently serving a 60 year prison sentence in a maximum sentence prison in the US for his involvement in the kidnapping of three US contractors.
The Marxist rebel group has pushed for Trinidad’s release since the beginning of peace negotiations in 2012, and were hoping that Obama, who has been a strong supporter of the country’s peace process, might use his presidential pardon in this case as a gesture of goodwill and support for the recently ratified accords.
The possibility of such an action prompted two prominent US senators to threaten to block the proposed $450 million US aid package to Colombia.
“Releasing Trinidad from US custody would not only send the wrong message to the FARC and other terrorist organizations, but it would also undermine the US judicial system,” wrote Republican senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in a letter to Obama last month.
With the peace deal already ratified and implementation underway, there is not much to gain by pardoning Trinidad for the outgoing Obama administration, and much to lose regarding the proposed aid package as a Republican-dominated government takes over in January.
During his time in office Obama has pardoned or commuted the sentences of 1,324 individuals, compared with the 200 under the Republican George W. Bush administration.