Colombian paramilitaries suspend demobilizations after militia leader jailed |

Colombian paramilitaries suspend demobilizations after militia leader jailed

BOGOTA, Colombia – Right-wing paramilitary groups suspended their demobilization process with the government on Thursday to protest President Alvaro Uribe’s decision to jail a paramilitary leader who is wanted in New York on drug trafficking charges.”From this date, the demobilization plans are suspended until the national government redefines the rules of the game,” Ernesto Baez, the fiery spokesman of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, told RCN television.Uribe’s spokesman, Ricardo Galan, said Thursday that the government has no immediate plans to respond to the paramilitary group’s decision.On Sept. 30, Diego Fernando Murillo was transferred from a country house in northwest Colombia, where he was under police guard, to a maximum security prison north of Bogota. The move came in response to comments made one day earlier by U.S. Ambassador to Colombia William Wood, who said he was disappointed that the Colombian government did not plan to extradite Murillo, aka “Don Berna.”Uribe has ruled out extraditing Murillo as long as he quits committing crimes and complies with a peace accord between the Colombian government and the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC.Murillo has been free to leave the rural house in recent months for official disarming ceremonies of paramilitary fighters. He has been linked to the murder of a local politician, but not formally charged, and it was unclear whether he would face charges under the latest order or how long he would be jailed.Under the two-year peace process, some 11,000 AUC fighters have laid down arms in exchange for a government amnesty. Thousands of other paramilitary fighters were scheduled to disarm by year’s end.The paramilitary factions were created by wealthy ranchers and cocaine traffickers in the 1980s to battle the rebels. Two leftist rebel armies – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army – have declined to enter into peace talks with the government.The paramilitary peace process has been widely criticized for allowing right-wing militia leaders to keep their booty and drug profits while facing little jail time. Uribe has defended the process, saying an element in Colombia’s four-decade-old conflict is being removed from the war.Vail, Colorado

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