Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba was briefly in Costa Rica this week and met with legislators and former president Rodgrio Carazo, saying she sought to “establish alliances for a political and negotiated end” to the ongoing conflict in her home country.
One official she didn’t meet with: Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who in 1989 was awarded an often-touted Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the the Central American Peace Accords. Lilia Solano, a Colombian peace activist who spoke with Cordoba at Costa Rica’s Universidad Nacional, said that the university had requested a meeting with Arias more than a month earlier, but was not granted one.
Contrast that with a meeting Arias held in August of 2006 when he hosted the heads of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), an umbrella group for right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia, declared a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. At his Casa Presidencial, Arias sat down with AUC spokesman Antonio Lopez (who was shot to death while eating lunch in Medellín last year) and others, including the infamous Carlos Mario Jimenez, a.k.a. Macaco, Ramon Isaza and Ivan Roberto Duque. Arias said then that he would be willing to lend a hand with peace negotiations in Colombia — which involve the Marxist-Leninist FARC guerrillas and the ELN (both also listed as terrorist organizations), and the Colombian government — but only if all the actors agreed. Arias visited Colombian President Alvaro Uribe the following week, but no role for Arias in the peace process ever materialized.
Speaking to a small group inside Universidad Nacional’s Social Sciences building earlier this week, Cordoba said that despite an era of unprecedented connection, and instant global communication, “very few people have a deep understanding of what is going on in Colombia.”
Cordoba’s visit comes on a return from the United States, where she met with the notorious paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso, who is awaiting trial on an assortment of pretty heinous charges. The visit also comes as controversy swirls in Colombia over President Uribe’s refusal to allow Cordoba to negotiate the release of Colombian soldier Pablo Emilio Moncayo from more than 11 years of captivity at the hands of the FARC. The guerrillas have said Cordoba’s presence is a prerequisite for his release.
Colombia’s Inspector General is currently investigating Cordoba’s ties to the FARC after the Colombian government said it found emails between the rebels and the senator on a laptop belonging to FARC’s number two commander Raul Reyes.