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Terrorism

Rubio asks Biden to support Colombian government as terrorist violence breaks out along Venezuelan border

In his letter to Biden, Rubio wrote, “I urge your administration to maintain and strengthen the United States’ longstanding commitment to ... the Republic of Colombia"

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio speaks in Nashua, New Hampshire.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio speaks in Nashua, New Hampshire. | Andrew Cline

January 11, 2022 5:25pm

Updated: January 11, 2022 7:07pm

Sen. Marco Rubio sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday urging him to support the Colombian government as it seeks to address the destabilizing impact that narco-terrorism has on both Colombia and the Western Hemisphere.

Rubio’s letter comes after fighting broke out between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) along the Venezuelan border earlier this month.

In his letter to Biden, Rubio wrote, “I urge your administration to maintain and strengthen the United States’ longstanding commitment to, and mutually beneficial relationship with, the Republic of Colombia in the coming years." 

“This should include exploring what additional support the United States can provide to Colombia’s military and law enforcement bodies to prevent future violence; preserve the integrity of Colombia’s elections from outside interference; and ensuring that U.S. international assistance does not benefit current or former members of terrorist organizations that further the violence. Our nation’s unwavering support to Colombia should not be a partisan cause,” the letter continued.

Rubio also penned an op-ed for Colombia’s El Tiempo on Tuesday, warning that “the outcome of the upcoming presidential elections [in Colombia] will also impact our nation as a whole. Further instability in the Western Hemisphere will only lead to more drugs, illegal immigration, and chaos making their way into the U.S.” 

In November, the U.S. State Dept. announced that it would remove several Colombian paramilitary groups – including FARC – from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list, noting that “following a 2016 Peace Accord with the Colombian government, the FARC formally dissolved and disarmed,” and assuring that “it no longer exists as a unified organization that engages in terrorism or terrorist activity or has the capability or intent to do so.”

Following the announcement, Rubio warned that “the Biden Administration’s decision to remove the FARC from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list risks emboldening narco-terrorists and the regimes that sponsor them throughout our region.” 

Although the Biden administration has assured Americans that FARC is no longer a cause for concern, the renewed violence in Colombia’s Arauca and Norte de Santander provinces appears to shine a light on Rubio’s previous warnings.

Marking the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Final Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe wrote a letter to the U.N. chief expressing his extreme disappointment in the outcome of the peace process.

In the letter, Uribe affirmed categorically that “there has not been a peace process.”

When referring to the Aug. 2016 peace agreement between then-president Juan Manuel Santos and former FARC leader Timoleon “Timochenko” Jimenez in Havana, Uribe noted that both national and international law was fractured “by giving total impunity and political eligibility to people responsible for atrocious crimes, including the kidnapping and rape of minors."

In total, 26 points were addressed in the letter ranging from constitutional concerns to concerns with continued narco-trafficking in previous guerrilla strongholds. Furthermore, Uribe expressed outrage surrounding issues of impunity and international law.

“In terms of impunity, Colombia broke away from the rule of law of Western democracies that require the imprisonment and political non-eligibility of those responsible for atrocious crimes,” he wrote.

According to a 2018 report released by Colombia's National Centre for Historical Memory, more than 260,000 people — mostly civilians — died from violence during six decades of guerrilla conflict in Colombia. The report also found that most of the 80,000 people who disappeared were never found. More than 37,000 of those killed were victims of kidnappings, and nearly 15,700 were victims of sexual violence.