This Tuesday the Constitutional Court is scheduled to make a decision regarding a request by the US government to extradite Jesús Santrich, one of the main negotiators of the peace accords. If extradited, this would set a precedent that could render the accords null. This is the latest of a long list of assaults on the peace by the Colombian extreme right and the Trump administration and Congress. Colombian President-Elect Ivan Duque, who takes power on August 7, has said that one of his first acts will be to extradite Santrich. This Tuesday’s ruling is the best chance to stop that from happening. The Alliance for Global Justice has spoken with popular movement leaders and contacts in Colombia, and we have been asked to solicit expressions of international concern and solidarity and send those to the Judicial Branch and the Constitutional Court. We have one day to do this – today, Monday, June 24…
Click HERE to send an email to Colombia’s Constitutional Court urging them to support the peace and reject the extradition of Jesús Santrich!
The request by the United States for Colombia to extradite Jesús Santrich, one of the most integral negotiators and architects of the 2016 Peace Accords representing the FARC, is a direct attack on these agreements implemented to end over five decades of civil war. This is a grave development orchestrated by the Colombian ultra-right and the Trump administration to dismantle the Peace Accords and plunge Colombia back into armed conflict.
The “drug trafficking” charges made against Santrich this past April were fabricated on the word of paid informers and agents and is lacking in any concrete evidence. Santrich is the victim of a frame up perpetuated by the US Drug Enforcement Agency and Colombian government agents who have acted in obedience to their North American bosses, betraying all notions of Colombian sovereignty and independence. This charge is all too similar to the decades worth of political persecution, set-ups and false accusations under the pretense of the “War on Drugs” that has been used as a widespread tactic to derail those seeking an alternative political platform for Colombia.
On August 8th, right-wing candidate, Ivan Duque, will assume the presidency of Colombia, after a series of votes marked by fraud and intimidation. He has vowed that one of his first actions would be to extradite Santrich to the United States. Duque is a disciple of former president, narco-trafficker mafia boss, and death squad patron, Álvaro Uribe. During his election campaign, Duque called Uribe Colombia’s “eternal president,” and is just as committed as his adviser in gutting the Peace Accords for the ultra-right and violent, conservative forces of Colombia .
Fortunately, there remain elements in the Colombian government who still respect the sovereignty and rule of law of their country; who still respect and uphold the 2016 Peace Accords as the law of the land. A decision will be rendered on Tuesday by the Constitutional Court as to whether to approve or reject Santrich’s extradition. Preventing extradition represents the best chance of preventing this growing threat to the peace process. We have heard from our associates in Colombia that expressions of international concern sent to the Constitutional Court would be an important act of solidarity and could have a positive influence on the case to prevent the extradition.
Click here to send an email to Colombia’s Constitutional Court urging them to rule against the extradition of Jesús Santrich to the United States
Jesús Santrich is an artist, poet, musician, and author who was also one of the most involved negotiators of the peace accords between the Colombian government and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP). The FARC-EP has been transformed into the new and legal political party, the Revolutionary Alternative Force of the Common (FARC). Santrich was supposed to enter the Colombian Congress, a fact that many on the right could not abide, and is also a member of the Commission of Follow-up, Impulse and Verification to the Implementation (CSIVI) to the accords The Peace Accords include provisions that would exempt former insurgent leaders from extradition out of the country for activities that were undertaken as a part of the then-insurgency. This is a provision that is typical of similar accords, such as those that ended the civil war in Northern Ireland. The set-up and extradition demanded by the US is a carefully orchestrated attempt to circumvent the accords and put all the negotiators and leadership of the former FARC-EP at risk of arrest and confinement in the United States.
The case against Santrich is a cynical fabrication with no other purpose than to break the accords and to intimidate Colombia’s Left and all those who hunger for peace. In over ten years of active solidarity with Colombian political prisoners, we have seen this tactic used repeatedly. Political activists, unionists, student leaders, rural, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian community organizers, and insurgents and former insurgents are arrested on the basis of false evidence and paid informants. More often than not, these cases are eventually thrown out, after two to five years. However, when extradited to the US, they are subjected to isolation and have little to any chance of being released. We are witnessing this now in terms of the arrest and incarceration on baseless charges of Simón Trinidad, one of the FARC-EP’s most important peace negotiators and a man who was not involved in combat operations.
There is no concrete evidence against Santrich. The narrative created by the US DEA and the Colombian National Attorney General claims Santrich was meeting with a Mexican cartel representative and Colombian conspirators to ship several tons of cocaine to the United States. The claims allege that references were made on the shipment in code as “television sets”.
Their “evidence” is full of holes and inconsistencies.
- There is only one recording with the voice of Santrich which only references a “meeting” that had been scheduled.Santrich maintains he thought this meeting had to do with the Peace Accords.
- The DEA has based its whole case on surveillance that supposedly occurred while Santrich was alleged to live in Bogota’s Barrio Modelia. However, throughout almost that entire time, Santrich was living in a house in Barrio Nicolás de Federmán, and never set foot in the Modelia house until April 7, 2017, five days before his capture.
- Many of the allegations against Santrich are based on supposed travels Santrich took outside of Bogotá when he was known to actually be IN Bogotá at the time.
The petition to extradite Santrich is the latest in a concerted effort to dismantle the Peace Accords. Since the first days the accords went into effect in November 2016, the extreme right wing has worked against them through both legal and illegal means. This has included attacking Left and Center-Left political campaigns upholding the accords and committing a steady stream of terrorist acts against popular movements and former, disarmed insurgents.
Despite Duque’s right-wing victory, the peace accords are still the law of the land. Along with the prevention of extradition,the Accords also included the creation of the Special Jurisdiction for the Peace (JEP) to investigate alleged grave crimes against humanity during the years of conflict. In May the JEP made a judgement to suspend Santrich’s extradition. The right wing is doing everything it can to take away what power the JEP has.
Duque’s promise to extradite Santrich reveals not only his animosity toward the peace, but his, and Uribe’s, subordination to their neoliberal commanders in Washington, DC. The extradition request by the DEA is just one of several steps that the Trump Administration and the Congress have taken to weaken the peace and plunge Colombia back into armed conflict. The Colombian and US right are against the Peace Accords because they support rural development and the return of displaced persons that would restrict transnational, big agriculture, and narco-trafficker access to natural resources.
Take a stand for peace in Colombia! Click here to send a message to Colombia’s Constitutional Court in defense of the peace and Colombia’s sovereignty, and against the Empire and its wars and repression!