The U.S. Must Stand Firm Against Narco-Terrorists, No Matter What Concessions Petro Makes
By Marco Rubio
“Surrendering to justice cannot be swapped for a peace agreement,” stated Colombia’s attorney general on January 30, 2023. Colombian President Gustavo Petro would be wise to listen to him — as would the Biden Administration.
This week, the Colombian government resumed peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), a State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), in Mexico City. The previous peace talks in Caracas, held with the support of the Maduro narco-regime, fell through when the ELN claimed it had never agreed to them in the first place. But the two sides are still hoping to end more than five decades of armed combat.
It’s all part of Petro’s plan to establish “total peace” in Colombia, to reach resolutions with not just Marxist Groups like the ELN and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), whose violent outbursts have caused suffering for Colombians for decades, but also more than two dozen criminal organizations, including the Clan del Golfo drug cartel. These organizations are local mafias and gangs, which have cost millions of people their lives and livelihoods.
On its face, bringing that bloodshed to a close would seem to be a good thing. But true peace cannot be achieved without long-term solutions to the threat of narco-terrorism. That’s why Petro’s approach of reaching deals at all costs is problematic. Petro, as a former M-19 guerilla member, thinks appeasing rebel groups and criminal organizations is the best way to negotiate. He doesn’t realize that so long as murderers and drug dealers run free, they will continue to disrupt peace and destroy lives.
Petro is also willing to sacrifice Colombia’s long-term commitments with the United States. Colombia agreed to allow the U.S. to extradite Colombian nationals who commit crimes against Americans to be tried on U.S. soil. Yet Petro asked his government to suspend the arrest warrants of five such criminals to further his talks with the ELN.
That is an insult to a close ally and friend. It is also a concession of justice. Narco-terrorists fear extradition because they know the American legal system will hold them accountable for their actions. That’s why the Clan del Golfo reacted so violently to the extradition of its former leader, Dario Antonio Úsuga alias “Otoniel,” last year. Without the threat of a U.S. trial hanging over their heads, the criminals will become bolder, and more of them will go free without justice being served.
Fortunately, Colombia’s attorney general refused Petro’s requests, stating “[t]here will be no lifting or suspension of arrest warrants for extradition.” Unfortunately, Petro has allies in the Biden Administration. They are Obama-era holdovers who, like the Colombian president, favor appeasement for dangerous groups — especially if those groups are left-wing.
These are the same people who removed the FARC from the U.S. government’s FTO list, granting undue legitimacy to a brutal band of thugs. There is a real chance that they will attempt to waive America’s extradition requirements on Petro’s behalf.
President Biden should not listen to these so-called experts, because what they seek is in the interest of neither Colombia nor the U.S. This administration must stand firm against narco-terrorists who harm American citizens, no matter what Petro demands for his negotiations.