A former guerrilla commander wanted for murder, the host of a party for the Cuban ambassador in Bogotá

The Cuban Ambassador to Colombia, José Luis Ponce Caraballo, who is about to be relieved of his position in Bogotá, participated in a farewell party hosted by Rodrigo Granda, a former commander of the FARC guerrilla, whom Paraguay claims for his alleged link to the murder of the daughter of a former president.

“In an emotional tribute organized by the Committee of Solidarity for Cuba to farewell Ambassador Ponce Caraballo, the solidarity of the Cuban people with Colombia and the world and the great contribution of the Island of Liberty and of this great man to the peace of our country “, Rodrigo Granda wrote in his Twitter profile.

The Cuban diplomat in turn retweeted Granda’s publication, adding the text: “Thank you friends for your unconditional support for Cuba in this long unequal battle against the blockade.”

Granda’s tweet is accompanied by several photos of the meeting in the courtyard of a house with a pool, including one where Ponce Caraballo and the Colombian hug and smile.

Rodrigo Granda, one of the signatories of the peace accords between the Government of Colombia and the FARC in Havana and who was prevented from entering Mexico days ago, has a red capture circular originally issued by the Paraguayan authorities.

The authorities of that country claim him for his alleged collaboration with the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), a local guerrilla group that in 2004 kidnapped the Paraguayan businesswoman and daughter of former president Raúl Cubas Grau, whose lifeless body was found months later with signs of torture.

Granda is accused of advising the group that kidnapped and murdered Cubas, for which the Paraguayan Justice issued an international arrest warrant against him. In 2012, he reiterated this request, which was sent to Interpol’s headquarters in France, just as the dialogue table between the FARC and the Colombian government was being established in Havana.

On your side, José Luis Ponce Caraballo, who has held the position since 2015, was at the center of the diplomatic dispute between Bogotá and Havana that at the beginning of the year made President Iván Duque threaten with the expulsion of officials of the Cuban Embassy if his interference in local affairs was demonstrated.

Weeks later, Ponce Caraballo delivered a letter to the Government of Colombia where Havana advised of the preparation of an alleged terrorist act in that country, planned by the Eastern Front of the ELN guerrilla, whose leaders have been in Cuba for years.

After the leaders of the ELN refugees on the island claimed not to have knowledge of this action, the High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia, Miguel Ceballos, affirmed that “if it wants to be consistent with this, the Government would hope that (Havana) extradites the members of the ELN who are on the island. That extradition would be a concrete fact that Cuba wants to fulfill its international responsibilities. “

The alleged revelation made by Havana occurred shortly after the Trump Administration returned the Cuban regime to the US list of state sponsors of terrorism., based on the refusal of the Island Government to extradite ten leaders of the ELN who live in its territory.

Last May, Colombia declared the first secretary of the Cuban Embassy in Bogotá, Omar Rafael García Lazo, persona non grata, whom it accused of developing “activities incompatible” with his diplomatic post. and to an alleged breach of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

The Cuban government did not take long to express its “energetic protest” over the decision of Bogotá and the director general for Latin America of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Eugenio Martínez Enríquez, confirmed that the Colombian ambassador in Havana was summoned to convey the discomfort.

“We denounce this unfounded decision, which constitutes an unfriendly act and affects the normal functioning of the Cuban Embassy in Colombia,” lamented the Cuban official, who assured that the island’s diplomats comply “seriously and rigorously” with their obligations.

Ambassador Ponce Caraballo is, according to Radio Television Martí, Colonel of the Cuban Intelligence Directorate who used the “facade” of a journalist from the official Cuban agency Prensa Latina since the 1970s.

Before serving in Bogotá, he was assigned in 1993 to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington DC, where he served as First Secretary, but was expelled on August 19, 1996 in response to the expulsion from Cuba of the American diplomat Robin D. Meyer , singled out by Havana for meeting with human rights defenders from the island’s civil society.

He then headed the official International Press Center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (CPI), a position he held until 2007.