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News > Latin America

Colombian Politicians Ask Santrich To Call Off Hunger Strike

  • Colombia's Marxist FARC Jesus Santrich (c) speaks during a news conference in Bogota, Colombia November 16, 2017.

    Colombia's Marxist FARC Jesus Santrich (c) speaks during a news conference in Bogota, Colombia November 16, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 May 2018

Two politicians and human rights activists publish an open letter to Jesus Santrich asking him to go off his hunger strike and "live to create more peace."

A Colombian politician and a peace negotiator for the disarmed FARC are asking Jesus Santrich to give up his hunger strike.

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Human rights activist and senator Ivan Cepeda along with Alvaro Leyva - a former politician who played an important role in the peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) - released a joint letter today asking Santrich to stop his hunger strike and "live to create more peace."

Santrich, who was arrested by the Colombian government on April 9 at the behest of the U.S. government for alleged drug trafficking, is currently in the El Tunal hospital in Bogota suffering from complications for not having eaten in a month.

Zeuxis Pausias Hernandez Solarte - Santrich's real name - a former guerrilla leader with the FARC and senator-elect with the Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons party, is slated to be sworn in July 20.

In their letter to the peace negotiator, Cepeda and Leyva write to Santrich: "we write to you to express our concern at this moment in which you - a key person in the construction of the Havana accords - are doubting your own existence because your morale has been offended by an accusation that wants to destroy you for being who you are, and denying you your ability to create national peace for years to come."

The two heartfully went on to say: "Keep living to create more peace. You still have more time before sleeping for eternity. We know that you don’t fear death, but as Stephen Hawking said, 'I don’t fear death but I’m not in a hurry to die. I have a lot to do first.' And take into your heart what Pope Francis has said: 'We can’t interpret our existence as an accidental encounter on earth and a walk toward nothingness.' We won’t walk into nothingness, Jesus Santrich. We will walk with you towards peace for all. Even in the face of our cruellest detractors, we will never be beaten."

The head of the United Nation's Verification Mission in Colombia, Jean Arnault, said he’s very concerned about Santrich’s health after visiting him at the Bogota hospital over the weekend.

Arnault and representatives from Cuba and Norway, as well as diplomats from other countries that helped to broker the peace accords, accompanied Arnault to the hospital and want the Colombian and U.S. governments to ensure that his high impact legal case complies with due process under the law.

On April 9 Colombian President Manuel Santos announced Santrich’s arrest saying he violated the 2016 peace agreement by helping to arrange the shipment of 10 tons of cocaine to the United States. U.S. authorities are seeking extradition of the senator-elect.

Santrich denies these charges and calls them a "legal set-up."

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