Uribe wacks paramilitary, maybe

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe took an "ambitious" step last week by extraditing to the United States of 14 of Colombia's most dangerous paramilitary warlords on drug-trafficking charges. This is in hope that Washington Democrats who hesitate passing the trade pact due to the numerous murders of trade unionists and human rights activists will now be at ease.

But, not too fast...

From The Economist:

...Mr Uribe's move could backfire. Human-rights groups fear that it will rob the victims of the compensation that they are entitled to from their tormentors, and could also remove the evidence needed for a successful investigation into why Colombia's paramilitaries and their political accomplices have hitherto enjoyed impunity. More than 60 congressmen, most allies of Mr Uribe, are either already in prison or under investigation in Colombia for alleged links to paramilitaries. Last month, Mario Uribe, the president's cousin and close political ally, was arrested.

“The good news is that these paramilitary bosses could now face serious jail time,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director of Human Rights Watch, a lobbying group. (In the United States, cocaine dealers can get 30 years or more.) “The bad news is they may no longer have any reason to collaborate with Colombian prosecutors investigating their atrocities...Just as local prosecutors were beginning to unravel the web of paramilitary ties to prominent politicians, the government has shipped the men with the most information out of the country,” he lamented...

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