Colombia’s President Iván Duque is in a quandary. While bewailing the
fact that his government was thwarted in its efforts to see the vanished
senior Farc leader Seuxis Paucias Hernández Solarte (‘Jesús Santrich’)
extradited to the US, Duque has had to accept the extradition from the US
back to Colombia of Andrés Felipe Arias, a former agriculture minister and
one of the closest allies of former president Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), the
founder of the ruling right-wing Centro Democrático (CD). Arias was
found guilty by Colombia’s supreme court (CSJ) in July 2014 of embezzling
state subsidies for poor farmers and sentenced to 17 years and four months
in prison. He left the country for “a family holiday” in the US shortly
before his conviction and did not return. Uribe is championing a
contentious congressional reform that would see Arias granted an appeal.
If Duque backs the reform, his commitment to combat corruption could be
questioned; if he opposes it, he will upset his own party and his mentor.