United States Vice-President was ambiguous on Wednesday about whether or not he supports Colombia in seeking the extradition of ELN peace negotiators from Cuba.
In a meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque on Wednesday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence “discussed the need for Cuba to repatriate the ELN leaders” back to Colombia, the US government told Spanish news agency EFE.
Whether this means Washington DC supports Duque’s claim Cuba should extradite the peace negotiators or the guarantor countries’ claim Duque must reunite the leaders with their troops in Colombia if he wants to end the talks is unclear.
Duque implicitly broke off peace talks with the guerrillas, taking place in Cuba, after the ELN acknowledged its role in a terrorist attack, which killed 21 people and injured 68, in Bogota last week.
The Colombian government ignored protocols laid out by former President Juan Manuel Santos, the ELN and guarantor countries in the case of a rupture of negotiations, saying the current administration “never signed any protocol with the ELN.”
Instead, Duque called for the arrest and extradition of the ten ELN leaders who traveled to Cuba to negotiate peace, refusing to allow them to reunite with their troops in Colombia.
The move was met with strong urges by the international community to fulfill its responsibilities, but with a thin response from Pence, who in statements to the press, did not touch the word “extradite” and made no comment about reuniting troops per the peace process protocol.
“(Pence and Duque) discussed the need for Cuba to repatriate the ELN leaders to Colombia so they can respond to the Justice for this terrorist attack,” read a statement to EFE.
It was left unclear what specifically the U.S. leader was suggesting in using the word “repatriate,” which according to Merriam-Webster dictionary means “to restore or return to the country of origin, allegiance, or citizenship.”
Though Cuba along with guarantor countries like Norway have met Duque’s call with firm push-back, refusing to extradite the ELN negotiators Duque referred to as “those criminals.”
“Cuba’s foreign ministry will act in strict respect to the Protocols of the Peace Talks signed between the government and the ELN, including the Protocol in Case of a Rupture of the Negotiation,” Cuba’s foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez said Saturday.