[Pnews] Take Action - Free Jesús Santrich, Stop the White House Assaults on Colombia's Peace Accord

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 22 10:32:11 EDT 2019


  Free Jesús Santrich, Stop the White House Assaults on Colombia's Peace

May 19, 2019

by James Patrick Jordan

In what may constitute a mortal blow to Colombia’s peace process, 
President Ivan Duque has defied the order by the Special Jurisdiction 
for Peace (JEP) to releaseJesús Santrich, aka Seuxis Hernández Solarte, 
from prison. Santrich is a negotiator and former insurgent who helped 
craft the accord to end more than five decades of civil war. The failure 
to recognize the court’s authority undermines a key provision of the 
accord implemented in 2016: the establishment of a Special Jurisdiction 
for Peace court to oversee truth and reconciliation processes, the 
handling of criminal procedures, release of political prisoners and 
prisoners of war, as well as extradition requests regarding 
ex-combatants. The probable next step in this rapidly unfolding drama is 
the extradition of Santrich to the United States, also in defiance of 
court orders.

      Send an email to Colombian authorities demanding that they respect
      their own laws and court decisions, not Trump’s demands, and free
      Jesús Santrich!

      Send an email to the White House demanding that the charges and
      extradition request against Jesús Santrich be dropped and the
      assaults on the peace process be ended!

At this moment, Santrich is being held in a Bogotá hospital, where he is 
in intensive care following varying and confusing reports as to his 
condition. According to Fundación Lazos de Dignidad (Links of Dignity 
Foundation), who form part of Santrich’s legal team, Santrich is 
receiving care for cardiac arrest. Various other reports had circulated 
earlier claiming Santrich had attempted suicide. Still other sources 
said authorities had raided Santrich’s prison cell at least two times, 
injuring him. The prospect that Santrich’s life could be in danger 
should not be dismissed. Former insurgents have previously died under 
suspicious circumstances while in state custody, including the recent 
mutilation and murder of ex insurgent Dimar Torres 
by Colombian Armed Forces troops on April 22 2019 in Norte de Santander.

On Friday, May 17 2019 the Colombian government appeared to be complying 
with the order for Santrich to be released, taking him beyond the gates 
of the prison in a wheelchair surrounded by prison agents. He was then 
re-arrested moments later. This liberation from prison was a cynical 
technicality in which Santrich never left the custody of prison 
personnel. The re-arrest happened in response to US government 
intervention, with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) providing allegedly 
new evidence linking Santrich to a narco-trafficking scheme. The 
evidence was never submitted to the JEP for review. The Duque 
administration has chosen to ignore Colombian laws and legal judgments 
in deference to White House demands and interference. This exposes to 
the world the degree to which Colombia under the Duque administration 
has rejected all notions of national sovereignty, taking on a colonial 
relationship where US interests outweigh the authority of Colombia’s own 
laws, accords, and courts.

Santrich was one of the primary negotiators of the accord between the 
Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of 
Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), ending more than 52 years of war. He 
was arrested on charges of narco-trafficking shortly before he was to 
take office as a representative in the Colombian Congress of the new and 
legal FARC (Revolutionary Alternative Force of the Commons) political 
party. All the known evidence against him to date is based on the 
testimony of paid informants and DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency) agents 
who allege that Santrich joined into a narcotrafficking enterprise with 
them after the peace accord went into effect. A few audio and video 
recordings exist on which Santrich speaks, and none make mention 
whatsoever of cocaine or any other illicit substance. Much of the 
testimony against Santrich contradicts known facts, for instance, 
reports of meetings Santrich could not possibly have attended since he 
was verifiably in an altogether different part of Colombia at the 
alleged times.

The lack of credible or concrete audio or video evidence indicates that 
the DEA agents and dubious informants were either incompetent or had no 
case. Despite this sustained and coordinated effort, backed by 
considerable US resources, they were never able to record a single 
instance of explicit discussion of any kind of illegal activity or 
reference to a narcotic substance 
An article by the Colombian weekly Semana 
corroborates that they, “never specify if they are talking about illicit 
crops or productive crops….” According to Santrich, during the few 
conversations he had with the set-up team, he thought they were 
discussing an agricultural enterprise. This makes sense given that FARC 
leaders were actively looking to develop employment and business 
opportunities for ex-insurgents being reincorporated into civilian life. 
Furthermore, there is no date on the video, and it is impossible to know 
if the video was made before or after the peace accord went into effect.

The DEA refused to hand over its evidence while the JEP was considering 
the extradition request. The JEP also noted many other irregularities by 
the DEA, including that it never sought nor received official permission 
from the Colombian government to operate within the country. This 
circumvention of legal process was done in collaboration with former 
Attorney General Nestor Martínez who just resigned along with his Vice 
Attorney General amid corruption investigations and accusations of 
mishandling the Santrich case.

This extradition is a nefarious, concerted, and serious attack on one of 
the core components of the peace accord. Agreement was reached for a 
general amnesty for armed combatants on both sides of the conflict, with 
any serious crimes against humanity or war crimes still prosecutable by 
the JEP. The JEP was to have the last word on issues of extradition. 
Under the accord, former combatants cannot be extradited for alleged 
crimes committed during the civil war. This was necessary given the US 
history of requesting the extradition of insurgents and ex-insurgents, 
even through false charges with the effect of impeding and circumventing 
the peace process. This history includes the extradition of Simón 
Trinidad, aka Ricardo Palmera, who is held at the Supermax prison in 
Florence, Colorado. Trinidad, like Jesús Santrich, was one of the 
FARC-EP’s peace negotiators. He has been in isolation since 2006 under 
kidnapping charges with no factual basis other than his membership in 
the FARC-EP. The US extradition process would create a catastrophic 
loophole around Colombian laws and the amnesty agreement. Extraditions 
have also been used against paramilitary leaders to avoid public 
exposure of testimonies “sensitive” to both US and Colombian national 
(and transnational corporate) interests.

The arrest of Santrich in defiance of the JEP is part of a larger effort 
by the Duque and Trump administrations to destroy the special court. Not 
only has the Trump administration requested this extradition after the 
practice had not been used for years, it has publicly declared its 
support for attempts to de-commission the JEP. The Duque administration 
has twice tried to repeal legislation establishing the JEP, and twice 
they have lost. During that process, then US-Ambassador Michael McKinley 
made a special trip to lobby the Colombian Congress against the JEP. 
Court cases at the highest levels have reaffirmed the legal authority of 
the JEP.

The re-arrest of Santrich is a direct response to US pressure. It is 
also a response to pressure from Duque’s mentor, former president and 
current senator Álvaro Uribe. In either case, it is clear that Duque is 
not representing the Colombian voters, but is a puppet in the hands of 
other masters. The morning before the re-arrest, Uribe, himself under 
various investigation for his ties to paramilitary death squads, 
publicly announced that Santrich would not be released, but would be 
extradited to the US in outright defiance of the court’s decision. Uribe 
speculated that this would be done via some kind of national emergency 
declaration by President Duque. Uribe is known as the father of 
Colombia’s death squads and was once actually listed as one of 
Colombia’s top 100 narcotraffickers by the US Defense Intelligence 
Agency. That, of course, was before he became a political power and the 
US government’s “best friend” in Latin America.

The Trump-Uribe-Duque alliance wants to destroy the JEP and, with it, 
the entire peace process. This is part of a three-pronged strategy. The 
other components include attacks against agreements regarding 
agricultural reform and substitution of crops with illicit uses; and 
encouragement of military violence, and ignoring if not outright 
encouraging paramilitary political violence, against rural, indigenous, 
and Afro-Colombian community activists, peace process participants, and 
any political or social movement leaders who defend these sectors.

Right now, the struggle to save the peace process in Colombia is 
centered on the resistance to the re-arrest and possible extradition of 
Jesús Santrich. We  must demand his immediate liberty, that he be kept 
safe and sound while in custody, and that he not be extradited to the 
United States.

As Santrich struggles for his life and freedom at the Méderi hospital in 
Bogotá, we must struggle for the peace of Colombia. The personal legal 
and medical condition of Jesús Santrich reflects the general health of 
Colombia’s peace accord. One can only hope they both recover. The 
alternative is permanent conflict and an erosion of any notion of civil 
rights and independent justice, a situation that would have 
repercussions throughout Colombia, the United States, and the entire 
hemisphere. This is an international precedent being set by Empire and 
its lackeys to jettison any and all notions of sovereignty and the rule 
of law. Those who care about peace, justice, and liberation will 
understand the importance of this crisis and step forward in resistance.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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