Monday, September 27, 2021

Colombia’s FARC says rebel leader’s arrest threatens peace accord

Member of the political party Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Comun and former members of guerrilla of the FARC Ivan Marquez offers a press conference in Bogota, Colombia, 10 April 2018. The stability of Colombia’s peace process was put to the test with the arrest of Jesus Santrich, who will be extradited to the USA for drug trafficking. Santrich is one of the leaders of the former FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla group and was a member of the negotiating team in Havana. Santrich was arrested on 09 April in Bogota after the release of a warrant issued by Interpol. EFE

Bogota, Apr 10 (EFE).- The peace accord between the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group is at “its most critical moment” because of the arrest of a forma guerrilla commander, the deputy leader of the insurgency-turned-political party said Tuesday.

“With the arrest of our comrade Jesus Santrich, the peace process is at its most critical moment and is at risk of becoming a true failure,” Ivan Marquez said at a press conference in Bogota, reading from a prepared statement.

Santrich, 51, was detained in Bogota on Monday by the Colombian Attorney General’s Office based on an Interpol Red Notice issued on behalf of a court in the United States.

US federal prosecutors accuse Santrich of conspiring with three others to smuggle several tons of cocaine into the United States in Nov. 2017, close to a year after the peace accord was signed.

“Santrich’s arrest is part of a plan orchestrated by the US government with the assistance of the Colombian Attorney General’s Office,” Marquez said.

That plan, he said, “threatens to extend to FARC’s entire leadership, with the goal of decapitating our party and burying the Colombian people’s longing for peace.”

The FARC statement calls the arrest a “disgraceful subordination of Colombian justice” to the US government.
At the same time, the leadership urged demobilized FARC fighters gathered in training and reincorporation zones “to keep calm and reject this provocation.”

The statement also urges Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos “to follow the accord and to keep his word,” while requesting “an emergency meeting.”
Santos, for his part, said in a nationally televised address aired Monday that he would not hesitate to authorize Santrich’s extradition, if necessary.

The peace accord shields FARC members from extradition for crimes committed before the accord was signed, although this would not apply in Santrich’s case since his drug conspiracy charges refer to crimes committed a year later.