[Pnews] Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 25 10:20:42 EDT 2018
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
by W. T. Whitney <https://www.counterpunch.org/author/gaguwe/> - April
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian
government signed a peace agreement on December 1, 2016. The FARC laid
down arms, thus ending more than 50 years of conflict. Since then,
however, dozens of former guerrillas have been killed. Settlements in
rural areas established for groups of demobilized combatants to prepare
for civilian life lack supplies and decent housing. The Special
Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), charged with either punishing or pardoning
former combatants guilty of crimes, hardly functions.
In a further blow to the promise of peace, state agents on April 9
arrested Jesús Santrich, whose extradition to the United States is on
the way. This veteran FARC leader was a key participant on the FARC side
in the almost five-year long peace talks in Havana. Iván Márquez, leader
of the FARC negotiating team, assured reporters that Santrich’s arrest
puts the peace process “at its most critical point.”
Santrich was a leader of the People’s Alternative Revolutionary Force,
the political party formed by demobilized FARC guerrillas. With a few
other former guerrillas, he was to have served in Colombia’s Congress,
in accordance with the peace agreement. Santrich was one of three FARC
members of the “Commission for Promotion and Verification of
Implementation” of the agreement.
In prison, Santrich immediately began a hunger strike which he indicated
was his “_last battle_.”
Agents of the attorney general’s office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Agency had been trailing Santrich and three others since June 2017. The
indictment from the Southern New York District Court accuses them of
conspiring to sell 10 tons of cocaine for $15 million to the Sinaloa
Cartel in México. _The report on lapatria.com
_states that U.S. prosecutors have “photos and hours worth of audio and
U.S. authorities have 60 days to “formalize their extradition request,”
which must be approved by the JEP, Colombia’s Supreme Judicial Court,
and President Juan Manuel Santos.
One of those arrested on April 9 was Marlon Marín, nephew of Iván
Márquez, Santrich’s close FARC colleague. DEA officials flew Marlon
_Marín to New York
_presumably so he can testify for the prosecution. The other two are
Armando Gómez España, who suffers from stomach cancer, and Fabio Simón
Younes,a 72 year old lawyer.
Interpol (The International Criminal Police Organization) routinely
identifies alleged criminals wanted for extradition by posting “red
notices” referring to them. Interpol had previously issued red notices
for six other former FARC guerrillas accused of narco-trafficking. It
later withdrew five of them presumably to allow the JEP to determine
their fate. But there was no red notice on Santrich until April 4.
His arrest on April 9 was apparently a hurry-up job, timed perhaps to
President Donald Trump’s visit in Bogota later that week. The FARC’s new
political party _worried that
to be “a trophy to hand over to Trump on his visit to Colombia.” Trump
Born in 1967, Santrich grew up in Colombia’s Caribbean region _where he
social sciences and joined both the Communist Youth organization and the
Patriotic Union. The latter, a left-leaning electoral coalition, for
three decades has been subjected to violent, often lethal, repression.
His parents were philosophy teachers. Santrich’s original name, Seusis
Pausivas Hernández, reflected his father’s admiration for two ancient
State agents seeking to kill Santrich mistakenly shot and killed his
best friend and fellow Communist Youth member who was named Jesús
Santrich. The Santrich of today adopted the victim’s name and fled to
the FARC. He was 21 years old.
As a leader of the FARC’s Caribbean Bloc, Santrich specialized in radio
communications, propaganda, negotiations, and political analysis.
Afflicted with Leber’s optic neuropathy, he can barely see. Santrich has
authored a book on indigenous peoples and plays the flute, harmonica,
and saxophone. He’s a poet and a painter. In Havana he represented FARC
negotiators in editing the peace agreement, in company with Sergio
Jaramillo, editor for the government.
In the opinion of _analyst José Antonio Gutiérrez D
<http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=240146>_, Santrich’s plight
serves as a warning “of what can happen to demobilized FARC guerrillas
if they don’t behave.” Santrich, having “defended the legitimacy of the
rebellion for almost three decades,” is “one of the few FARC leaders who
have spoken clearly about the failure of the peace process.” He had
argued against giving up arms and expressed concern that the JEP might
imprison former guerrillas while granting impunity to state agents.
Santrich has shown a “dignity which for the oligarchy is arrogance.”
Gutiérrez claims he’s been persecuted by the media and “certain
repentant FARC leaders.”
How likely it that Santrich trafficked in illegal drugs? _Defenders say
_it’s impossible; he’s been living in Bogota surrounded, for his
protection, by soldiers and United Nations. Nor are his life history and
his intellectual and artistic interests consistent with a turn to
His experience as a FARC guerrilla wouldn’t have predisposed him to
produce, process, or distribute illicit drugs.According to _one report
Colombian prosecutors indicated that between 1995 and 2014 military
units of the FARC “made most of their money taxing drug traffickers and
coca growers. The _Washington Office
Latin America and the _InSight Crime
each agree that taxation, not trafficking, was the FARC’s primary mode
of drug involvement.
The U.S. government, a well-known enabler of drug-trafficking, may not
easily escape accusations of hypocrisy as it pursues Santrich for that
crime. During the Vietnam War, for example, _the CIA cooperated with _
Laotian general to make Laos the world’s largest exporter of heroin.
_CIA pilots transported
to the Contra opponents of Nicaragua’s Sandinista government and on
return flights transported cocaine to the United States. In 1988, _the
CIA provided help
a money-launderer working for the Medellincocaine
The U.S. government turned a blind eye to the Wachovia Bank as it
laundered “_at least $110 million
<https://www.dea.gov/pubs/pressrel/pr031710.htm>_in drug profits.” The
HSBC Bank, with U.S. operations, and Bank of America _laundered
on behalf of Mexico’s Zetas and Sinaloa cartels and a Colombian cartel.
Extradition is a vexed issue in Colombia. Left-leaning critics maintain
that governmental compliance with U.S. demands for extradition signifies
submission to imperial power. Colombian sovereignty is at risk, they say.
It’s a political tool. Ex- President Alvaro Uribe, for example, in 2008
extradited 14 paramilitary chieftains to the United States for
prosecution on drug charges. Their removal spared his government both
the inconvenience of punishing them for murders and human rights
violations and the embarrassment of their good relations with
politicians being revealed.
Uribe extradited _1,149 alleged drug traffickers
<http://www.eltiempo.com/archivo/documento/CMS-7681890>_to the United
States between 2002 and 2010, perhaps as a show of good faith. The U.S.
government, after all, was using drug war as pretext for providing
Colombia with military assistance worth billions of dollars. Doing so,
Uribe was overlooking a Colombian Constitutional Court decision in 1980
nation’s extradition treaty with the United States.
President Santos, Uribe’s successor, has promised that his “_hand will
_when he authorizes Santrich’s extradition. The wheels for Santrich’s
extradition are thus well greased.
In the United States, Santrich’s extradition may be on automatic pilot.
_According to an analyst
extradition requests are issued, it is almost impossible to call them
back. The indictments … come from grand juries, presided over by judges,
and the U.S. government’s executive branch cannot interfere in the
actions of the judicial branch.”
The prospect of Santrich’s extradition to the United States recalls the
fate of his FARC comrade Simon Trinidad extradited on December 31, 2004.
Trinidad escaped conviction on drug charges only to be sentenced to 60
years in prison on a charge of conspiring to take hostage three U.S.
drug-war contractors. His continued imprisonment despite FARC demands
for his repatriation suggests that neither nation is wedded to the peace
process. That’s not good news for Jesús Santrich, now facing extradition.
In an i_nterview a week before _
arrest, Santrich stated that, “The regime confronting us for more than
half a century hasn’t changed its character of injustice. This means
that spaces for democratic struggle are still closed.” He predicted
that, “What’s coming for the former FARC combatants is the most stubborn
and vengeful judicial persecution. It will go hand in hand with
paramilitary persecution and every kind of non-fulfillment [of the
accord]. For example, there’s no freedom yet for more than 500 comrades
/*W.T. Whitney Jr.* is a retired pediatrician and political journalist
living in Maine./
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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