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The imprisonment of Facundo Molares, the Argentinian government in the cross-roads

Liberation or extradition?

A brief review of the case. Facundo Molares Schoenfeld (hereafter F.M.), a 46 year old Argentinian citiizen was a member of FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, until this movement dissolved itself as a politico-military organization following the Havanna-Oslo peace agreements of 2016, still in force. After demovilization he became a journalist.

The November 2019 coup-d’état against the government lead by Evo Morales in Bolivia found F.M. in that country, carrying a photo-reporter mission for the Argentinian online journal « Centenario ». In November 2019. While hospitalized in the Hospital Universitario Municipal Japonés de Santa Cruz de la Sierra with a grave kidney crisis, he was arrested and accused of the murder of two persons in a confrontation between civilians in that town, with intervention of security forces. Shortly afterwards, in spite of the absence of evidence and without a trial, he was commited to the high-security « Chonchocoro » prison in La Paz, subject to very harsh detention conditions, despite his very delicate state of health, attested by a medical commission. Disregarding the pressure of the international community and of the Argentinian government for his liberation, the Bolivian de facto regime tried to extradite him to Colombia, but the justice of this country noted that the absence of legal charges could not justify his extradition. Finally, F.M. was liberated and sent to Argentina, where, at long last, he could be treated for his ailments.

On November 8, 2021, F.M. was arrested in his parents’ home in the city of Esquel on orders of judge Guido Otranto, following a request of the Colombian justice, based on the charge of « hostage kidnapping », supposedly having occurred in 2009. The international order of arrest invoked the fact that F.M. represented FARC in a public exchange of hostages mediated by the Red Cross, an event amnestied by the Havanna-Oslo peace agreements, that the Colombian justice pretends to ignore. Note, further, that this international order of arrest was issued by a prosecutor of the Colombian justice, a position that –contrary to that of a judge or a court-- does not endow him or her with the power to order the arrest of a person.

On November 9, 2021, former judge Maria Laura Garrigos, presently head of the Federal Prison Service, orders his transfer to the maximum security prison of Rawson, arguing that « F.M. has a criminal profile and a background of maximum danger to allow him an « extra-mural » (i.e., « free ») life » (decree DI-2021-2764-APN-DGR). This pronouncement was delivered without previous examination or psychological expertise of F.M., and without informing his defense lawyers, as required by law. Neither was given consideration to Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that establishes : « everyone accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent as long as his or her culpability is not established according to the law, in a public trial where all the guarantees for his (her) defense have been granted ». We are shocked that the competent legal authorities in Argentina determined that F.M. is a « highly dangerous » indivudual, thus forejudging his culpability.

Especially we call attention to the fact that F.M. has serious health problems: heart and breathing deficiencies –he is waiting for a heart operation--, as well as a loss of sight.

Grounds for the request of extradition. The Colombian justice bases its demand of extradition of F.M. on an interamerican convention of 1933, endorsed on 18/7/2013. However, Article 3 of that convention establishes that political affairs are not extraditable : it is up to the Argentinian government to decide whether or not the actions of F.M. in Colombia have a political character… and act accordingly.

Waiting for a decision of the Argentinian government that, we hope, will respect the basic rights of F.M., ACAF encourages its members, friends and sympathisers to participate in demonstrations and other forms of pressure to prevent that Argentina –a country whose human rights record is irreprochable-- delivers F.M. to Colombia –whose government is known for its notorious connivence with criminal forces that permanently attempt against the life and security of its citizens and their basic human rights, as attested by the following (recent) actions:

In the 5 years elapsed since the signature of the peace agreement, 292 demobilized FARC members and 1270 human rights defenders and social activists have been murdered.

During the National Strike of April and May 2021 there were 87 demonstrators killed, 267 « disappeard » and more than 3000 arbitrary arrests.

Our demand to President Alberto Fernández. We consider the present situation of F.M. as totally incompatible with the rule of law. ACAF is sending to President Alberto Fernández and to Santiago Cafiero, Minister of Foreign Relations, a letter expressing its concern of the treatment deserved to F.M., and demanding that he IS NOT EXTRADITED and his IMMEDIATE LIBERATION.

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