Kevin Whitaker

The US will insist on extraditing top FARC members in the event of a peace agreement between the Colombian government and the country’s largest guerrilla movement according to claims published in Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper.

Documents allegedly obtained by the El Tiempo newspaper reveal that the recently appointed US ambassador to Colombia has stated his intention to extradite top FARC officials, regardless of whether an eventual peace settlement is reached in the country’s longstanding armed conflict.

However, when Colombia Reports spoke with the US Embassy late on Tuesday, they would not speculate on any of the claims made by El Tiempo.

According to El Tiempo, as part of his confirmation process, Kevin Whitaker, the newly appointed US ambassador to Colombia, was required to fill out a questionnaire which focused heavily on the prospect of a post-conflict scenario in the country.

When asked about his position on the extradition of high-level FARC commanders, Whitaker replied, “I will vigorously support or efforts to guarantee that individuals who are accused by the United States are extradited,” El Tiempo reported.

MORE: FARC drug agreement ‘important step towards peace, security, and progress’ for Colombia: European Union 

El Tiempo also reported the newly appointed ambassador say saying that while there is not yet a clear transitional justice model in sight, lasting peace in Colombia can only be achieved if FARC members are held accountable for international human rights violations.

Whitaker revealed the US’ intentions to continue combating drug cultivation in the country, stating, “The US and Colombia are committed to the fight against the FARC, the ELN, and other terrorist organizations in the region. Our ultimate goal is to eradicate illegal cultivation, and dismantle other illegal activities to guarantee the security, peace and justice that has been achieved.

According to the questionnaire obtained by El Tiempo, the US is doubtful that all elements of the FARC will successfully demobilize, considering the immense profits to be gained from the organization’s illegal activities, particularly drug trafficking.

MORE: FARC agrees to end all illicit drug operations at Colombia peace talks

On Friday — during  the third stage of a six-round peace negotiation — the FARC reached an agreement with the Colombian government to end all illicit drug operations as part of ongoing efforts to seek a deal ending 50 years of violence.

Delegates from both the FARC and the government agreed in a joint-communication that the cultivation of illicit crops and the subsequent trafficking of drugs has led to conditions of poverty, marginalization, weak institutional presences, and the existence of criminal organizations.

As a solution to illicit drug cultivation, both parties agreed to implement a “National Program for the substitution of the illicit uses of coca, poppy, and marijuana crops.”

This, the negotiating parties said, would improve the lives of farmers as they would no longer be prosecuted while their living conditions would improve.

“The aspiration is that all growers and the communities in those territories enter into agreements of substitution with the program that will be headed by the President of the Republic,” said President Juan Manuel Santos in a televised speech.

The large remainder of the deal was not disclosed as none of the agreed sub-points come into force until after signing a final peace agreement. Before that, the government has said, the Colombian people get to vote to ratify the peace accord.

MORE: Colombia politicians mixed reactions to FARC drug agreement

The Colombian government has been engaged in peace negotiations with the FARC since November 2012.

The FARC has been fighting the Colombian state since its formation in 1964 in what has become the oldest internal armed conflict in the world. An estimated six-million Colombians are direct victims of the fighting between rebels, the country’s military and state-aligned paramilitary groups.

Three previous attempts at peace talks between the government and rebels failed, but the Cuba talks have gone uninterrupted since their inception, despite continued hostilities between rebel and public security forces in Colombia.

Sources

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