Years ago, I read something in National Review. I’m going from memory, but I believe this is word for word: “Every once in a while, you should read something that makes your blood boil.” Recently, I have looked into a case — that of Andrés Felipe Arias. I have written about him in a piece called “Asylum Now: The Awful Case of a Splendid Man.”
Arias is a Colombian economist and politician. He served in the cabinet of Álvaro Uribe. When the current president, Juan Manuel Santos, assumed power, the Uribists found themselves in legal jeopardy. Probably the most flagrant case is that of Arias. With his family, he fled to the U.S., to seek political asylum. He is now in federal detention, scheduled to be extradited.
This is rich. No, it is Kafkaesque. Colombia recognizes no extradition treaty between itself and the United States. Indeed, right now, it is refusing to extradite to us the murderers and kidnappers of Americans. At the same time, we are on track to extradite an innocent man who has been sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison.
And by whom? By supreme-court justices whom our DEA has found to be corrupt — on the take. (In Colombia, this scandal is known as el cartel de la toga, or the gown cartel, the cartel of the judicial robes.)
Andrés Felipe Arias is, in effect, a political prisoner. But how could that be? Colombia is a democratic country. Its current president, Santos, won the Nobel Peace Prize last year. His predecessor, Uribe, was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Colombia is not Venezuela. How can there be a Colombian political prisoner?
I wouldn’t have thought so either. Anyway, see what you think. (That piece again is here.) In my view — my very strong view — Arias and his family should be granted political asylum by the United States yesterday.