Colombia: FARC accused in forced abortions

Colombia is seeking the extradition of an alleged former FARC medic who was arrested in Spain on Dec. 11 and is accused of having carried out hundreds of forced abortions on female guerilla fighters. The man, Héctor Albeidis Arboleda, has been working as a nurse in Madrid for the past three years, and is a graduate of Cuba's Inter-American University of Health. He is wanted by Colombia  authorities for carrying out forced abortions on FARC fighters in Chocó and Antioquia regions. Colombia's Fiscal General Eduardo Montealegre, in announcing the extradition request, said, "We have evidence to prove that forced abortion was a policy of the FARC…based on forcing a female fighter to abort so as not to lose her as an instrument of war." A Fiscalía spokesperson told news-magazine Semana, "Several women died in these abortion practices, others were injured. Others referred to this as torture."

Colombian authorities alerted their Spanish counterparts to arrest Arboleda after his former assistant was arrested in Medellín two months ago. "The order was clear. The units couldn't fill up with recently born children and those who refused to cooperate had to be processed and eliminated,” the assistant was quoted as saying by Semana. Some of the victims were young indigenous women from the community of Zabaleta in Chocó who had been forcibly recruited, according to the account. The Fiscalía puts the number of forced abortions carried out by the FARC in the thousands, with Arboleda alone responsible for some 500.

Spanish authorities have yet to determine if Arboleda was in the country legally, in which case he will have the right to challenge his extradition and apply for asylum. He remains free while the matter is pending. (Colombia Reports, La Razón, Madrid, Dec. 14)

The extradition request comes days after Colombia for the first time declined to extradite to the United States a FARC commander accused of drug trafficking. Juan Vicente Carvajal AKA "Misael," a member of the FARC's 10th Front in Arauca, is sought by federal prosecutors in New York. Leaders of the ruling Liberal Party explicitly said President Juan Manuel Santos turned down the extradition request to help facilitate the ongoing peace talks with the FARC in Havana. (El Teimpo, El Tiempo, Bogotá, Reuters, Dec. 1)