Days after former FARC leader Jesus Santrich voluntarily shook off his security detail and his whereabouts are yet to be known, his leftist party released a statement this week reiterating their commitment to Colombia’s peace process and have asked Santrich to do the same.
Colombia: FARC Leader Jesus Santrich Freed at Top Court's Order
While at a FARC reintegration camp in the municipality of La Paz Saturday, Santrich abandoned his state security detail provided to him following his release from prison in June. Santrich did not inform his party of his actions and gave little indication of his motives which has caused concern for the future of Colombia’s peace agreements.
However, though unusual, Santrich is no longer a detainee of the state and is within his rights to refuse protection without informing others or the government if he so wishes. He is free to move wherever he pleases and still maintain his seat in Congress.
Nevertheless, on Monday, the country’s official ‘special jurisdiction for peace’ declared that he will have to return by June 9 when he is due to appear in court and if he fails to attend he will then become a fugitive.
There have long been concerns about the mistreatment Santrich suffered while he was in jail, as well as the possibility of extradition to the U.S. and possible threats to his life, following the killing of over 160 FARC members since Colombia’s peace agreements were signed in 2016.
Amid concerns that his disappearance may end up damaging Colombia’s peace agreements FARC’s statement in response read: “We remain convinced that this [peace agreements] is the correct path, and for that reason, we maintain and will continue to maintain our firm commitment to peace ...any personal or group decision that deviates from what was agreed in the Peace Agreements, signed with the Colombian Government in 2016, goes against our political line and is therefore only representative of those who make such decisions [against the agreements]."
The official FARC-led ‘Santrich Libre’ campaign, which demanded his release while he was detained, also published a statement, on Monday, claiming that up until his disappearance, he had not given any indication that he did not remain committed to the peace accords that Santrich himself had helped to negotiate.
The statement also pointed out that Santrich is still being persecuted by the right-wing Duque government in Colombia
Since the peace agreement was signed in 2016, 7,000 FARC members laid down their weapons and committed to engaging peacefully as an open political party.
However, activists have accused the Colombian government of not respecting their end of the agreements, due to the fact that over 160 FARC members and 160 social activists have been murdered by right-wing paramilitary forces since 2016, despite the government's publically stated commitment to peace.