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English/Español: Rubio, Grassley: President Petro’s Drug Policy Changes Will Hurt Regional Counter-Narcotics Investigations

Sep 23, 2022 | Press Releases

Since assuming office, Colombian President Gustavo Petro has initiated peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), a left-wing Foreign Terrorist Organization, called for delisting Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, and resumed diplomatic relations with the Maduro narco-regime in Venezuela, all while he called on this criminal dictatorship to serve as a guarantor with the ELN. Petro’s favorable actions toward actors working closely with drug traffickers in our hemisphere call into question the Colombian president’s commitment to cooperating with the United States to prevent the flow of drugs crossing our border. 
 
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, expressing their concerns with Petro’s drug policy changes and intentions to modify extradition policy with the United States.
 

  • “President Petro’s drug policy and posture towards the United States is alarming. Shortly after assuming office, President Petro suspended arrest warrants and extraditions for members of the National Liberation Army (ELN)—a U.S. designated terrorist organization with roughly 3,000 active members.”  

  • “President Petro’s embrace of Nicolás Maduro is equally concerning. As you know, the United States indicted Mr. Maduro for his nearly 20-year narcoterrorism partnership with the FARC. Unsurprisingly, the ELN and FARC dissidents have enduring refuge in Venezuela under the illegitimate Maduro regime. Still…Colombian Ambassador Benedetti met with Mr. Maduro to ‘reestablish the ties of friendship that should never have been broken.’”

  • “President Petro now seeks to renegotiate Colombia’s alliance with the United States, which both he and President Biden disparaged as lacking equity. At your meeting, President Petro requested a reform in our countries’ long-standing extradition procedures. According to the press, he proposed limiting extraditions to those defendants ‘who do not negotiate with the State’ of Colombia. This limitation is not only at odds with our current treaty, which was approved by a 96-0 vote in the Senate, but also incentivizes criminals to avoid extradition by bribing or coercing the sitting political regime.”  

 
The full text of the letter is below.
 
Dear Director Gupta, 
  
On August 23, 2022, you met with newly-elected Colombian President Gustavo Petro to discuss collaboration between the United States and Colombia. As you know, President Petro has a history of violence. In 1977 he joined M-19, a rebel group formed on allegations of presidential election fraud, which led an attack on a government building that killed 94 people. The M-19’s 27 hour siege on the Colombian Supreme Court killed 11 Supreme Court justices  and was allegedly backed by Pablo Escobar. President Petro was in jail at the time of the attack. He was arrested three weeks earlier, “dressed as a woman to avoid recognition and found with guns, home-made explosives and propaganda material.”  On June 21, 2022, President Biden “underscored that he looks forward to working with the President-elect to continue strengthening bilateral cooperation[.]” This is despite President Biden’s recent statement that “willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy.”  
 
President Petro’s drug policy and posture towards the United States is alarming. Shortly after assuming office, President Petro suspended arrest warrants and extraditions for members of the National Liberation Army (“ELN”)—a U.S. designated terrorist organization with roughly 3,000 active members. Most recently, members of Petro’s administration have met with members of Segunda Marquetalia, a dissident part of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (“FARC”), and an entity designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States. Cocaine production funds the ELN’s and FARC’s terrorist activities and reached record levels as of 2020. Even so, President Petro has publicly lauded the decriminalization of cocaine and formulated a plan to end aerial eradication of coca.  
 
President Petro’s embrace of Nicolás Maduro is equally concerning. As you know, the United States indicted Mr. Maduro for his nearly 20-year narcoterrorism partnership with the FARC. Unsurprisingly, the ELN and FARC dissidents have enduring refuge in Venezuela under the illegitimate Maduro regime. Still—at the direction of President Petro and in contravention of Colombia’s commitment to support the democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people —Colombian Ambassador Benedetti met with Mr. Maduro to “reestablish the ties of friendship that should never have been broken.”    
 
President Petro now seeks to renegotiate Colombia’s alliance with the United States, which both he and President Biden disparaged as lacking equity. At your meeting, President Petro requested a reform in our countries’ long-standing extradition procedures. According to the press, he proposed limiting extraditions to those defendants “who do not negotiate with the State” of Colombia. This limitation is not only at odds with our current treaty, which was approved by a 96-0 vote in the Senate, but also incentivizes criminals to avoid extradition by bribing or coercing the sitting political regime.  
 
As you noted in this meeting, “[i]t is important to make sure that the Department of Justice and other entities are included in this decision making.” As the Senate is one of those entities, we look forward to discussing your meetings with President Petro and his cabinet this month. In anticipation of our conversation, please provide the following: 

  1. A complete list of United States government officials who accompanied the U.S. Delegation that you led to Colombia during the week of August 22nd (collectively, “U.S. Delegation”).  

  2. A copy of any documents provided by President Petro and his administration to the U.S Delegation. 

  3. An explanation of what consultation, if any, you sought from the Department of  Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Section, or the Special Operations Division of the Drug  Enforcement Administration either before or after engaging in conversations with President Petro regarding federal drug prosecution.  

  4. What, if any, comments were made by the U.S. Delegation with respect to extraditions from Colombia to the United States and potential future policy regarding extraditions.   

  5. What, if any, discussions were had around potential negotiations with violent organizations, like the National Liberation Army (ELN) and Segunda Marquetalia.  

  6. What, if any, discussions were had around the recognition of Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela. 

 
Sincerely, 
 

RUBIO, GRASSLEY: LOS CAMBIOS EN LA POLÍTICA DE DROGAS DEL PDTE PETRO PERJUDICARÁN LAS INVESTIGACIONES REGIONALES ANTIDROGAS

 
Desde que asumió su mandato, el presidente colombiano Gustavo Petro, inició conversaciones de paz con el Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), una organización terrorista extranjera de izquierda, pidió que se elimine a Cuba de la lista de estados patrocinadores del terrorismo de EE.UU. y reanudó las relaciones diplomáticas con el narco-régimen de Maduro en Venezuela — todo mientras llama a esta dictadura criminal a que sirviera de garante con el ELN. Las acciones favorables de Petro hacia actores que trabajan de cerca con narcotraficantes en nuestro hemisferio, ponen en duda el compromiso del presidente colombiano de cooperar con EE.UU. para evitar el flujo de drogas a través de nuestra frontera.
 

Los senadores estadounidenses Marco Rubio (R-FL) y Chuck Grassley (R-IA) le enviaron una carta al Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director de la Oficina de Política Nacional de Control de Drogas de la Casa Blanca, expresando su preocupación por los cambios en la política de drogas de Petro y sus intenciones de modificar política de extradición con EE.UU.

  • “La política de drogas y la postura del presidente Petro hacia EE.UU. es alarmante. Poco después de asumir el cargo, el presidente Petro suspendió las órdenes de arresto y de extradiciones de miembros del Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), una organización terrorista designada por EE.UU. con aproximadamente 3.000 miembros activos”.

 
El texto completo de la carta en inglés está aquí.