Importing Impunity: Will Obama Pardon FARC Terrorist Simon Trinidad?
With every concession, U.S. standards of justice and freedom have begun moving toward the repressive ideology of the Castro brothers and their satellite organization, the FARC. How the administration responds to a recent demand by the narco-terrorist group will reveal just how far down that road it is willing to go
By Lia Fowler*
In a disconcerting move last month, Secretary of State John Kerry sat across a coffee table from the fat cats of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Cuba, for a two-hour meeting. According to FARC leaders, Kerry pledged support for the so-called “peace” negotiations between the narco-terrorist group and the Colombian government, and promised to guarantee the terrorists’ safety. In turn, they presented Kerry with a book, signed by themselves, notorious criminals, most of whom are under indictment in the U.S. The following day, FARC terrorists enjoyed a ball game with Raul Castro and President Obama, at the latter’s invitation. A few days later the terrorists were treated – it is unclear by whom – to a free Rolling Stones concert on the island.
U.S. policy toward Cuba and the FARC cannot be separated, as Cuba has sponsored FARC terrorism for decades. It is not surprising, then, that despite the government’s policy not to negotiate with terrorists, and the fact that the FARC are still designated as such, the Obama administration would adopt the same appeasement policy with the FARC that it has with Cuba. The belief is that friendly relations will advance democratic principles in both Cuba and its terrorist off-shoot. In fact, the reverse is true: with every concession, U.S. standards of justice and freedom have begun moving toward the repressive ideology of the Castro brothers and their satellite organization, the FARC. How the administration responds to a recent demand by the narco-terrorist group will reveal just how far down that road it is willing to go.
Regarding Cuba, the new relationship has not resulted in any positive changes on the island. While Kerry highlighted the fact that five political prisoners were released prior to his and President Obama’s visit to the island, he failed to mention the brutal crack-down on dissidents and mass arrests in the days before and after the visit.
And Cubans are now losing basic freedoms in the U.S. as well. While Carnival Corporation will be initiating cruises to Cuba, for example, enriching the regime through the government-controlled tourist industry, Cuban-born American citizens are banned from the cruises. Until now, it would have seemed unimaginable that a U.S. company could discriminate against an entire class of people and get away with it. As Cuba expert Maria de los Angeles Torres stated in an interview with the Miami Herald, “It’s like they’re bringing Cuban law here.”
Castro-style press censorship has also made its way to U.S. soil. Cuban journalist Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo wrote in a column in Sampsonia Way that, though he and Cuban columnist Rosa Maria Paya, were allowed to attend a press conference held by John Kerry at the State Department following the opening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C. last year, they were immediately surrounded by security agents.
“It was not until I was taken aside by the security spokesman, John Kirby, that we realized what all the fuss was about,” Pardo Lazo wrote. “All that security was there for the two of us.” Pardo Lazo stated that Kirby informed him that he would not be allowed to ask any questions and that security would forcefully eject Paya if she attempted to participate in the press conference.
In relation to Colombia and the Cuban-spawned FARC, The FARC has shown no signs of moving toward U.S. values of democracy or human rights, nor has the Obama Administration pushed the issue. An estimated 2,000 child soldiers are still held in FARC camps, for example, and the U.S. has never made its support contingent on their release. In fact, FARC terrorist Pastor Alape boldly attended the ball game with the Obamas alongside one of his victims, his “girlfriend” Samy Flores. Now a young woman, she was kidnapped as a child and held in jungle camps, where the punishment for desertion was death. Her iconic photograph as a child soldier carrying an AK-47 has come to represent the plight of children at the hands of the FARC – Not a peep about that from the State Department.
Instead, the U.S. has thrown its support behind an agreement that offers complete impunity for terrorists responsible for child soldiering, sexual slavery, kidnapping, bombings and massacres. The Transitional Justice Agreement that the Obama Administration took credit for helping craft, calls for no jail time for any crime, including crimes against humanity. Rejected in polls by about 90 percent of Colombians, it does not meet international or U.S. standards of justice.
What has yet to be seen, is whether the U.S. will limit itself to condemning Colombians to this perverse model of impunity, or
bring it State-side by pardoning notorious FARC terrorist ‘Simon Trinidad,’ who is currently serving a 60-year sentence in a U.S. prison for his role in the kidnapping of three U.S. citizens, held captive for five years.
Emboldened by their meeting with Kerry, the FARC resorted to extortion to secure the long-sought release of their comrade, by naming ‘Simon Trinidad’ FARC coordinator for the process of disarming. Offering the ludicrous argument that only Trinidad – who has been in the U.S. for over a decade – has knowledge of the FARC’s arsenal, the terrorists’ message to the U.S. was clear: no Trinidad, no disarming.
It’s a move that U.S. Senator Marco Rubio saw coming since last year, when he introduced a resolution opposing Trinidad’s release. “The Senate must take a stand to preserve the integrity of the U.S. judicial system,” Rubio said at the time, “and make clear to this administration that it should reject any request to release convicted narco-terrorists like Simon Trinidad from U.S. custody.”
Clearly, U.S. values have not rubbed off on Cuba or the FARC; but their lawless and repressive ways seem to be rubbing off on the State Department. Seduced by a false promise of “peace,” the Obama Administration has already compromised its policies by negotiating with terrorists. Will it cave in to extortion too?
* Lia Fowler is an American journalist and a former FBI Agent.