Amparo Torres faces deportation for alleged links with FARC

Posted by admin on Jul 7th, 2005

National Post. Union activist belongs to terror group, CSIS says By Stewart Bell

Toronto – A Toronto trade union activist and 50-year-old mother of three has been identified by Canada’s intelligence service as a secret member of the Colombian terrorist group FARC.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) alleges in a newly released report that Amparo Torres is a member of the outlawed Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known as FARC.FARC is a Marxist guerrilla group formed in 1964 that is responsible for a brutal campaign of bombings, assassinations, kidnappings and hijackings in Colombia.

“The service has reasonable grounds to believe that the FARC is a terrorist entity, that Torres is a member of the FARC and that Torres has undertaken activities in support of the FARC,” CSIS wrote.

The intelligence service provided information about Ms. Torres to an immigration adjudicator at a closed-door hearing in Toronto in May. The adjudicator sealed the information on the grounds that making it public could harm Canada’s national security.

But a summary was recently filed in Federal Court. It says intelligence agents first interviewed Ms. Torres at her home in July, 1999.

The interview took place a month after the National Post reported that Ms. Torres had received enthusiastic applause when she spoke at a National Action Committee on the Status of Women conference.

“The guerrilla movement is fighting to protect Colombian people’s rights,” the Post quoted her as saying. “They have very strong popular and political support and they have become the only voice of the Colombian people.”

A CSIS investigation has since determined that Ms. Torres is the former wife of Luis Alberto Urbano, also known as Marco Leon Calarca, the alleged chief international spokesman for FARC, who was arrested in Bolivia in 1998. Her brother, Jorge Torres, is also a FARC leader.

CSIS says Ms. Torres was a member of both the Colombian Communist Party (FARC was established as the party’s armed wing) and the Union Patriotica, a political party that was linked to FARC. “Based on Torres’s membership in the PCC and UP, her activities on behalf of FARC and her association with members of the FARC, the service has reasonable grounds to believe that Torres is a member of FARC and is
inadmissible to Canada.”

Unlike such terror groups as the Tamil Tigers, FARC does not have a large support network in Canada, but it is known to use the country for fundraising and propaganda purposes. FARC was added to Canada’s list of banned terrorist organizations in April, 2003.

The CSIS report blames FARC for a litany of terrorist attacks, including the 1999 execution of three U.S. missionaries, the 2002 hijacking of a passenger plane, the kidnapping of 13 state legislators in Cali in 2002 and last year’s murder of 34 peasants.

Under Canadian immigration law, members of terrorist organizations are not allowed to enter Canada. Ms. Torres will be deported back to Colombia if an immigration judge upholds the government’s case against her.

Ms. Torres denied the allegations in an affidavit filed in Federal Court and said there are “numerous inaccuracies and omissions” in the CSIS report. She claims that CSIS is trying to recruit her.

“I believe that CSIS not only wants me to become a CSIS informant, but also believes that I can help locate my ex-common law spouse. In one of their interviews, a CSIS officer specifically asked me if he is living in Cuba,” she wrote. She said FARC has no representatives in Canada.

“I completely deny CSIS’s accusation that I am involved with the FARC. I have only committed myself to promoting non-violent political change in Colombia,” she wrote.

Ms. Torres was a trade union leader at Santiago de Cali University. In October, 1992, she was kidnapped. She believes the kidnappers were members of a right-wing paramilitary group.

Upon her release, she fled Colombia in February, 1993, with her then-spouse Mr. Urbano and their three children. She went to Mexico until the Canadian government offered her asylum. She arrived in Canada in 1996 and applied for Canadian citizenship in June, 2000. She married a Canadian, a retired University of Toronto professor,two years ago.

Since coming to Canada, Ms. Torres says she has been doing volunteer work with two unions that belong to the Canadian Labour Congress “to promote solidarity with the trade union movement in Colombia.”

Hearings that will decide whether she will be deported are scheduled for November. Ms. Torres is appealing the findings of the CSIS report, but federal lawyers call her case “specious.”

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