BOGOTA – The brother of a senior figure in Colombia’s FARC guerrilla group left his homeland for Nicaragua, whose leftist government granted his request for political asylum.
Ruben Dario Granda, wife Elba Mercedes Aranga and the couple’s son took refuge at the Nicaraguan Embassy in Bogota on May 31 and formally applied for asylum in the Central American nation.
Granda and Aranga were arrested April 6 on charges of helping the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, obtain money to finance its activities.
Though a judge quickly ordered the couple’s release, calling the evidence against them dubious, Ruben – the brother of FARC “foreign minister” Rodrigo Granda – decided it was too risky to remain in Colombia.
“Today it’s me, tomorrow it’s another person,” Ruben Granda told CM& television news before he and his family boarded a commercial flight for Managua.
Vowing to return to Colombia at some point to prove his innocence, he again denied any ties with the FARC.
Granda plans to teach at Nicaraguan universities, according to CM&.
The Colombian government was unhappy with Nicaragua’s decision to grant asylum to Granda, but ultimately agreed to allow the family to leave the country.
Nicaragua has also extended asylum to a Mexican college student and three suspected Colombian rebels who survived Bogota’s March 2008 military strike on a clandestine FARC camp in neighboring Ecuador.
More than 20 people were killed in that attacks, including FARC second-in-command Raul Reyes.
Relations between Bogota and Managua have been strained over Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s criticism of a pact giving the U.S. Armed Forces access to seven bases in Colombia.
Nicaragua recently arrested Colombian fishermen for allegedly straying into the Central American country’s territorial waters. The two nations share a maritime boundary by virtue of Colombia’s possession of the Caribbean islands of Providencia and San Andres, located off the Nicaraguan coast. EFE