Get Out of Jail Free for the AUC

Chris Brady cdbrady at attglobal.net
Sun Nov 24 17:15:26 MST 2002


{I got this, originally from Reuters,
via Barry Stoller's Proletarian News.
  My comments follow --cb}

Colombia's paramilitaries agree to cease-fire.

Reuters. 24 November 2002.

BOGOTA -- Colombia's largest far-right paramilitary force has agreed to
a two-month cease-fire
beginning Dec. 1, following secret meetings with the government's top
peace envoy, sources close
to the negotiations said on Sunday.

The cease-fire by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia -- known in
Spanish as AUC -- is
seen as a first step in an eventual peace process between President
Alvaro Uribe and the outlawed
anti-rebel army that could lead to demobilization of its 10,000 fighters
and amnesty for militia
leaders.

Signing a peace accord with the vigilante army could dramatically change
the balance of forces in
Colombia's 38-year guerrilla war.

Negotiations between the government's peace commissioner Luis Carlos
Restrepo and senior
paramilitary commanders took place in absolute secrecy over recent weeks
in paramilitary
hide-outs in jungles in northern Colombia, Reuters learned. Five
Catholic bishops acted as
mediators.

The apparent peace move by the AUC comes after the United States in
September indicted
paramilitary leader Carlos Castano on charges of smuggling 17 tonnes of
cocaine. Washington is
seeking Castano's extradition.

Castano is set to announce the unilateral cease-fire in the next few
days, sources said.

Sources close to the negotiations told Reuters government officials had
discussed in the secret
meetings the possibility of granting amnesties or pardons to
paramilitary commanders, including to
Castano, if a peace accord were signed.

"The legal mechanism that would be applied (for amnesties of pardons) is
being analyzed," one
source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Sources also told Reuters the government would seek financing to pay for
the concentration and
demobilization of militia fighters if a peace settlement were reached.

{There will be some out-of-work warriors.
  Where could they get jobs, with their experience?
  Maybe the Colombian Army could help them out
 }

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