A new designation by the U.S. government identifying a woman recently granted asylum in Nicaragua as a “key member” of a terrorist organization and international drug kingpin has raised new concerns that Nicaragua is developing an image as a haven for terrorists.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Sept. 30 designated eight international representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), considered a “narco-terrorist organization” by the U.S. Among the identified FARC members is Nubia Calderón de Trujillo, aka “Esperanza,” who was recently granted asylum in Nicaragua by President Daniel Ortega.
“Today’s designation exposes eight ‘International Commission members’ of the FARC,” said Adam J. Szubin, director of OFAC, in an official government release. “Through their service to the FARC as international representatives and negotiators, these persons provide material support to a narco-terrorist organization.”
Calderón, a survivor of the Colombian military bomb attack on a FARC jungle camp in Ecuador on March 1, is identified by the U.S. government as the rebel group’s representative for Ecuador.
She has reportedly been recovering in Nicaragua for more than a month convalescing along with three other survivors from the bombing raid on the FARC camp, which killed 21 guerrillas, including FARC’s No. 2 leader, Raúl Reyes.
Ortega has granted all four survivors asylum in Nicaragua for “humanitarian reasons” and has reportedly put them up in homes paid for with government funds.
Independent lawmaker Jamileth Bonilla, president of the National Assembly’s Commission on Foreign Affairs, told The Nica Times this week that Ortega’s relationship with FARC is putting Nicaragua in a “delicate situation” both politically and economically by creating the image of a terrorist haven and scaring away investors.
Even more worrisome was an investigative report published in the daily La Prensa Oct. 2 indicating that the Sandinista-controlled Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) was in the process of producing a state identification card – or cédula – for FARC guerrilla Alberto Bermúdez, a Colombian who had reportedly applied for Nicaraguan papers under the assumed name “René Alberto Gutiérrez Pastrán.”
Roberto Rivas, the polemic president of the CSE, told official media outlets that the cédula hadn’t been printed yet, but didn’t explain how it had been processed in the first place.
FARC has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government since 1997 and was identified as a “significant foreign narcotics trafficker” in 2003 by U.S. President George W. Bush.
Last week’s action by the U.S. government freezes any assets the designated entities and individuals may have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions involving those assets.