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August 28, 2007
US Seeks Extradition of AUC Commander
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Remember the AUC member who was stripped of his cease-fire privileges that I mentioned the other day? Well, the US has requested his extradition (via the BBC: US seeks Colombian paramilitary):

Colombia said Jimenez violated a peace agreement by continuing to organise cocaine shipments and run a criminal empire from prison.

Jimenez is wanted in the US on drug trafficking charges

[…]

He is the first jailed warlord to lose benefits agreed under a 2003 peace deal which led paramilitary leaders to surrender and demobilise 31,000 of their men in exchange for reduced jail terms and extradition protection.

The Uribe administration has been quite willing to extradite such persons to the US, so the track record suggests that they will do so here. Further since, Jimenez was caught breaking the demobilization agreement, I suspect that the Colombian government will want to make an example of him. Given that one of the things that narcos have wanted to avoid is extradition to the US this situation will give Uribe a chance to send a signal to the other AUC commanders: behave or be sent to the US for trial.=.

Filed under: US-Colombian Relations, Drogas, Paramilitares | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
August 25, 2007
Imprisoned AUC Commander Loses Demobilization Benefits
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Colombia warlord loses benefits

The authorities said they had evidence that Carlos Jimenez, also known as Macaco, was continuing to smuggle drugs and run a criminal empire from prison.

He has been transferred to Colombia’s most secure prison, Combita, and will be tried as an ordinary criminal.

Jimenez could also be extradited to the US although no request has been made.

The move means Jimenez loses the benefits given to demobilised paramilitaries, including shorter sentences.

The idea that Jimenez could have been continuing criminal activities in prison is hardly a surprise. Indeed, for anyone familiar with Colombia’s track record on curtailing criminal activity by high profile prisoners, this news will likely elicit nothing more than a yawn.

The interesting part is that Jimenez’s actions are in violation of the demobilization agreement between the government at the paramilitary group known at the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). The real question now will be if the Colombia justice system actually succeeds in treating Jimenez like a common criminal, and it will be quite interesting to see if the US seeks his extradition. From there the real question will be if this will dissuade other imprisoned AUC commanders from continuing their criminal activities.

Filed under: Justicia, Paramilitares | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
August 8, 2007
Another Narcosub Found
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Colombia navy seizes sub in coke probe - 08/07/2007 - MiamiHerald.com

Colombia’s navy seized a 65-foot submarine that likely was used to haul tons of cocaine on part of its journey to the United States, officials said Tuesday.

No drugs were found or arrests made when the fiberglass submarine was discovered Sunday in a swampy mangrove about six miles off the northernmost point of Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

The blue-colored, diesel-powered vessel had sophisticated communications systems and was capable of carrying up to 11 tons of cocaine

I say “another” in the title, as there have been several of these types of thing seized over the years. It is always an excellent illustration of the lengths to which smugglers will (and can, given the profits) go to move their product.

Filed under: Drogas | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
August 3, 2007
Uribe Offers “Safe Haven” for Talks with Guerrillas
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Uribe offers Colombia talks zone

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has offered to create a temporary safe haven for peace talks, if left-wing guerrillas free hundreds of hostages.

Mr Uribe said he would then also be willing to release rebel prisoners.

[…]

The Farc has not responded officially but a website which carries rebel statements rejected the proposal.

“There will definitively be no humanitarian exchange with Uribe,” a statement on the Anncol website began.

The FARC would prefer a demilitarized zone in the southwest of Colombia. However, after the disaster that was the Pastrana administration’s (1998-2002) attempt at such a zone, I can’t imagine any Colombian president ceding such a space again anytime soon, and certainly not Alvaro Uribe.

I also have a hard time seeing the FARC negotiating with the Uribe administration given that the FARC consider Uribe linked directly to paramilitary groups. This is problematic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that the last major peace accord (not the last set of talks, but the last major agreement) between the FARC and the government, back during the Betancur administration (1982-1986) led to the creation of a political party, the Patriotic Union (UP). Over the course of less than two decades, right-wing paramilitary groups (linked directly to the AUC that is in talks with the government to demobilize) assassinated upwards of 4,000 members of the UP, in what has been accurately terms a “political genocide.”

As such, given that the Uribe administration has been negotiating with the AUC (and because there have been credible accusations that Uribe worked with paramilitary groups when he was governor of the department of Antioquia in the 1990s), I have a very hard time seeing the FARC being willing to talk to Uribe. Given that there are also serious problems with the AUC’s demobilization (i.e., not all of those demobilized appear to be remaing demobilized), then one would think that distrust would be high.

Just to add another wrinkle to the story, Uribe’s father was killed by the FARC during a kidnapping attempt.

Filed under: FARC, Paramilitares | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
August 2, 2007
Colombia: Number 1 in National Holidays
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via theHerald News Daily:

Looking to get more time off? Move to Colombia. Renowned for its high murder rate, this Andean nation also leads the world in public holidays with 18 each year. Second-place Slovenia has 16, while Slovakia, Cyprus and Chile have 15 each, according to a new study by Mercer Human Resource Consulting

Colombian’s (and certainly Bogotanos) love their three-day weekends (called puentes in the local idiom). They were great if one could get out of town (as many Bogotanos of means do every puente) or if you were stuck in town, as traffic and crowds were greatly diminished due to all the vacationers. But man, traffic back into Bogota on Monday afternoon was horrendous.

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The Judiciary Rallies Around Supreme Court Against Uribe on the Para Peace Plan
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor


Reuters AlertNet - Colombia high court wins support in Uribe dispute

Colombian judges rallied around the country’s Supreme Court on Wednesday as President Alvaro Uribe seeks to bypass its decision to ban former right-wing paramilitaries from running for political office.

The fight between the president and the high court threatens to unravel a peace deal in which 31,000 former paramilitary fighters have turned in their guns in exchange for pardons and the right to hold public positions.

Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office, the Constitutional Court and other legal institutions met on Tuesday to express their support for the Supreme Court.

A spokesman for the high court said a statement was expected on Wednesday from the institutions “backing the court in this argument with the president.”

Last month it decided that demobilized paramilitary fighters must be charged with common crimes like drug trafficking and murder rather than with sedition.

The ruling shook the foundation of the peace deal, which promises that many paramilitaries will face only political charges, which can be pardoned, in connection to their 20-year struggle against left-wing rebels.

Once pardoned, they would be able to run for political office, an avenue that is closed if they have a serious criminal conviction on their records.

If the Supreme Court decision stands, many “paras” have said they will stop cooperating with investigators and halt the turnover of their illegally acquired wealth.

I would note that it is unclear as to whether they are, in fact, being required to turn over their ill-gotten gains.

This situation is very interesting and has multiple components, not the least of which being a test of the institutional strength of the judicial branch vis-a-vis the executive. There is also the very real issue of the appropriate manner for treating the paramilitaries. While by the numbers it would seem that there has been a substantial demobilization, which is quite positive given that the paras are very much responsible for the lion’s share of the violence in the last decade plus, the problem is that it seems that many of them are not staying demobilized.

Uribe appears headed to the Congress to seek a legislative remedy. One would think that he would have a very good chance of getting it, given his support in the legislature. On the other hand, he has suffered in the eyes of public opinion (although he is still around 66% approval) and one wonders if that will affect some of that legislative support, given that it rests on a coalition of smaller parties, rather than on one large one tied directly to the President. Uribe ran as an independent affiliated with parties who ran in the congressional elections rather than actually joining a party himself.

The issue also has some short-term importance, given that:

Several former militia fighters say they plan to run in October provincial elections, sparking concern that paramilitaries may not only get away with the crimes they committed, but might end up running parts of the country.

Filed under: Justicia, Paramilitares | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack
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