Colombia's Sen. Piedad Córdoba interrogated by US immigration
Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba was held by US immigration authorities at New York's JFK airport June 27, to be interrogated about her alleged ties to the FARC—despite her diplomatic visa. "When I left customs, I was retained for two and a half hours," she told Colombia's Caracol Radio. "I think they wanted to send me back to Colombia. All my papers were photocopied. I had brought denunciations to deliver to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. They photocopied everything, my phones and personal belongings too."
Córdoba said that she wasn’t allowed to leave until she had had contact with US assistant secretary of state Thomas Shannon and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. She suggested the detainment was triggered by official objections from Colombia's consul in New York, Fransisco Noguera, to her speaking at the Venezuelan consul about efforts to have FARC hostages released. She said she is considering filing charges against US authorities. (Colombia Reports, June 28)
Córdoba has been at the center of several political controversies in Colombia recently. Earlier this month, demobilized paramilitary leader Jorge Iván "El Iguano" Laverde Zapata, former commander of the AUC's Catacumbo bloc, testified that former deputy director of Colombia's Administrative Security Department (DAS), José Miguel Narváez, was involved in the 1999 abduction of Córdoba and the murder of journalist and comedian Jaime Garzón. Laverde said Narváez instigated AUC leader Carlos Castaño to murder Garzón and ordered the kidnapping of senator Córdoba. (Colombia Reports, June 17)
Days earlier, the Colombian magazine Semana reported that Córdoba advised the FARC not to release French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt. The magazine examined 900 e-mails mentioning Córdoba found on the computer allegedly taken from slain FARC commander Raúl Reyes. The files indicate Córdoba was already in touch with the FARC before the Colombian government assigned her and Venezuela President Hugo Chávez to mediate with the rebels in October 2007.
A Dec. 11, 2007 e-mail from FARC operative "César" to Raúl Reyes indicates Córdoba advised the guerillas to keep Betancourt hostage. Colombian President Álvaro Uribe had by then terminated the mediation efforts by Córdoba and Chávez. Among the statements in the e-mail that "Cesar" attributes to Córdoba:
* That Ingrid is thin, but that she’s always been thin and it won’t kill her.
* That she believes someone needs to be released and given to Chávez on the border and that it shouldn’t be Ingrid. They don’t give a fuck about the rest anymore.
* That she had a fierce discussion with Yolanda Pulecio (Betancourt’s mother) about the show she put up for her daughter.
Córdoba denies making the statements. (Colombia Reports, June 8)