Sunday, June 8, 2014

Letter from US Senator Mark Rubio to US President Barack Obama regarding the FARC negotiations in Havana, and potential prisoner release



US Senator Mark Rubio
June 3, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The outcome of the ongoing negotiations between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) could have a serious and long lasting effect on the national security interests 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 results 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 U.S. courts of notorious drug traffickers and terrorists, including members of the FARC.


During his December 2013 ambassadorial nomination, U.S. 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.

Unfortunately, amid the backdrop of the negotiations and the political debate in Colombia, reports persist about efforts to release and repatriate FARC members that are currently in U.S. custody.

Specifically, I continue to hear reports of potential petitions to repatriate:

·        Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera (a/k/a “Simon Trinidad”),

·        Anayibe Rojas (a/k/a “Sonia”), and

·        Jorge Enrique Rodriguez Mendieta (a/k/a “Ivan Vargas”).
 
These FARC members were tried and convicted in U.S. courts of offenses against the United States.

·        Ricardo Palmera was sentenced to 60 years in prison in relation to the hostage-taking of three Americans who were forced to spend years in captivity.

·        Anayibe Rojas was sentenced to over 16 years for overseeing a multi-million dollar drug trafficking ring.

·        Meanwhile, Jorge Enrique Mendieta was sentenced to over 20 years after admitting conspiracy to import large quantities of cocaine to the United States.
 
Any potential for the release of individuals such as these, who are serving sentences for crimes against U.S. law, is of grave concern.

I urge the Administration to respect the judicial process that led to the lawful incarceration of these dangerous individuals in the United States and ask that you firmly commit not to release or repatriate any FARC criminals in U.S. custody in relation to the ongoing negotiations in Cuba.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio
United States Senator