Effectiveness of Colombia's Extradition Policy Questioned

By Gaudin, Andres | NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs, August 17, 2012 | Go to article overview

Effectiveness of Colombia's Extradition Policy Questioned


Gaudin, Andres, NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs


In the late 1980s, at the urging of the US government, Colombia began negotiating an extradition agreement aimed specifically at prosecuting drug-cartel bosses. Taking as their slogan the words of Pablo Escobar Gaviria, Colombia's major cocaine trafficker at the time, "Better a grave in Colombia than a prison in the US," the drug mafias launched a violent offensive to prevent passage of legislation to implement the agreement.

Since then, some 1,500 Colombians have been extradited to stand trial in US courts. And not all were drug traffickers and their paramilitary allies. In the eight years of the administration of former President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), many members of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) were also sent to the US. The most recent extraditions were that of Uribe's sister-in-law Dolly Cifuentes Villa, on Aug. 7, and that of Gen. Mauricio Santoyo, his former security chief, on July 3 (NotiSur, July 27, 2012).

In the bloody campaign aimed at blocking the extradition treaty (NotiSur, Feb. 9, 1988), drug traffickers killed three presidential candidates, two ministers of justice (and seriously wounded a third), an attorney general, the director of one of the two most important newspapers in the country, and at least 200 judges and 500 police (NotiSur, Aug. 22, 1989). They also downed a passenger plane and threatened to kill one US citizen for every Colombian extradited.

Extradition no longer a threat

Twenty-five years after the treaty took effect with the July 1987 extradition of drug trafficker Carlos Ledher, positions have markedly changed. The failure of the official strategy has increasingly led to voices--in the judiciary, political circles, social organizations, and the press--suggesting that the treaty be revised or even rescinded.

And drug traffickers have abandoned their slogan, and now, upon being arrested, demand to be extradited to the US as quickly as possible. To accomplish that, they hire the best lawyers, many from the US with rich and notable experience in the judicial system, and they spend huge sums of money.

From a legal perspective, the extradition-policy's failure has two aspects. First, the transfer of those detained and the impossibility of following their cases means that, in reality, Colombia has ceded its legal sovereignty to the US, says Aurora Moreno Torres, a history and social sciences graduate from Colombia's Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, in an essay published in the magazine Encrucijada. And, she adds, Colombia gets nothing in return, and authorities generally learn that extradited criminals have been released when they return to Colombia and go through immigration at the Bogota airport.

Second, drug traffickers have proved that, by implicating their peers and possible partners and giving the US Justice Department the rich information that they have accumulated, they can leverage that "collaboration" for better prison conditions and lighter sentences.

In the same vein, Gen. Oscar Naranjo, who for seven years, until July 2012, was head of the Policia Nacional, said that US authorities are "notorious" for their lack of collaboration. He did not say specifically that the extradition treaty should be revised, but, in statements reprinted by the magazine Semana, he admitted that for some time there has been "concern because in the US some drug dealers are serving sentences that for us are uncertain. We do not have information on whether the sentences are harsh, whether there are agreements for parole, or if they are agreeing to releases."

Also on the legal side, but with more impact, are other opinions from people relevant to the life of the country. In statements to the daily El Tiempo, former anti-organized-crime prosecutor Alfonso Gomez Mendez said that the time has come to evaluate the validity of extradition. "The country shed its blood to establish extradition as a punishment for drug traffickers, and it turns out that now the drug kingpins prefer to leave. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Effectiveness of Colombia's Extradition Policy Questioned
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.