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Rubio Urges New U.S. Envoy To The Negotiations With The FARC To Reject FARC’s Demands For U.S. To Release Narco-Terrorists

Feb 26, 2015 | Comunicados de Prensa

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, the chairman of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, today called on the Obama Administration to reaffirm the U.S.’s commitment to longstanding principles of the U.S.-Colombia partnership and to reject requests by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) terrorist group for the U.S. to release its members from U.S. custody.

In a letter to newly appointed Special Envoy for the Colombian Peace Process Bernie Aronson, Rubio recognized that, “the outcome of the ongoing negotiations between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) could have serious and long lasting effect on the national security interest of the United States and Colombia.”

Rubio asked that the new envoy:

  • Reaffirm that the United States will not offer or accept the release of any person currently held in the United States,  nor will the United States offer to or accept the transfer of said individuals to Colombia;
  • Reaffirm that the United States will continue to seek access to individuals who are wanted to stand trial in the United States for violations of United States law;
  • Reaffirm that the United States will continue to support aerial eradication of coca fields; and
  • Provide regular updates to Congress on the status of the negotiations between the government of Colombia and (FARC) with an assessment of the impact that the negotiations will have on United States national security.

As the Administration’s Special Envoy, Aronson is expected to periodically meet with FARC and Colombian negotiators, as well as third party mediators. According to the Administration, his role includes protecting U.S. interests to preserve extradition and coca eradication policies – and to update the U.S. government on the status of negotiations.

However, according to the Congressional Research Service, “Conceivably, the United States may be asked to consider new policies derived from proposals made at the negotiating table, which might include limiting extradition to the United States of FARC members associated with drug trafficking, or possibly reviewing the FARC’s designation as an FTO.”

The letter urges Aronson and the Obama Administration to reject this possibility and is similar to an earlier request made by Rubio to President Obama in June 2014.

A PDF of the letter is available here, and the full text is as follows: 

February 26, 2015

The Honorable Bernie Aronson
Special Envoy for the Colombia Peace Process
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20220

Dear Special Envoy Aronson,

As you assume your responsibilities as the United States Special Envoy for Colombia Peace Process, it is important to recognize the outcome of the ongoing negotiations between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) could have serious and long lasting effect on the national security interest of the United States and Colombia.

Colombians have suffered for far too long as a result of the violence inflicted by the FARC, an organization considered a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States and the European Union. We should do all we can to ensure the ongoing negotiations and any potential outcomes do not weaken the integrity of our bilateral security efforts.

A hallmark of our security cooperation has been the extradition to the United States and conviction in United States courts of notorious drug traffickers and terrorists, including members of the FARC. During his December 2013 ambassadorial nomination, United States Ambassador Kevin Whitaker reaffirmed these efforts when he said that the United States would continue to seek access to individuals who are wanted to stand trial in the United States for very serious crimes.

Another major component of our security cooperation has been the utilization of aerial spraying to eliminate the cultivation of coca. This program, which targets areas currently outside the control of the Colombian government, allows the reduction of coca fields without placing large numbers of ground security forces in harm’s way.

As you represent United States interest during the ongoing negotiations between the government of Colombia and the FARC, I ask you to:

  • Reaffirm that the United States will not offer or accept the release of any person currently held in the United States,  nor will the United States offer to or accept the transfer of said individuals to Colombia;
  • Reaffirm that the United States will continue to seek access to individuals who are wanted to stand trial in the United States for violations of United States law;
  • Reaffirm that the United States will continue to support aerial eradication of coca fields; and
  • Provide regular updates to Congress on the status of the negotiations between the government of Colombia and (FARC) with an assessment of the impact that the negotiations will have on United States national security.

As you know, United States policy on the Western Hemisphere, especially in Colombia, is of great importance to me, my constituents in Florida and our nation’s interests. I urge you to keep in mind the victims of actions taken by FARC and firmly commit to seeking out those criminals who are still wanted in Colombia as you assume your new duties.

Atentamente,

Marco Rubio
United States Senator