Hunger striking FARC leader taken to hospital

The US claims that the FARC's long-time ideologue "Jesus Santrich" sought to export 10 tons of cocaine after the 2016 peace deal. (Screenshot: YouTube)

Colombia’s prison authority said Thursday that jailed FARC leader “Jesus Santrich” has been taken to hospital after going on hunger strike more than two weeks ago.

The former guerrilla ideologue has refused food since April 9 when he was arrested on a US claim he was conspiring to traffic drugs. His health has deteriorated since.

The former rebel, who claims the drug trafficking claim is a “hoax,” was taken from La Picota prison to the Tunal hospital in the south of Bogota, prison authority INPEC said.

Santrich has refused all food and medical attention since his arrest that triggered a major crisis in the country’s peace process two and a half weeks ago.

As part as a peace deal signed with President Juan Manuel Santos in 2016, the former guerrillas agreed to lay down their weapons and abandon criminal activity in return for seats in Congress.

Santrich was elected the group’s leading representative in the lower house by FARC members after years of negotiating peace.

According to the DEA, he conspired to traffic 10 tons of cocaine to the US, but this is denied by Santrich and other FARC leaders.

The FARC’s political chief,  “Ivan Marquez,” said earlier this week he would not take part in the July 20 congressional inauguration ceremony that would see him being sworn in as senator.

One of the FARC’s most feared former military commanders left the camp where he was leading reintegration efforts, spurring speculation he could be rearming forces.

The peace process, which was already under tremendous pressure over chronic state failures to execute the peace deal, is on the brink of collapse, according to Marquez.

Santos told reporters at the United Nations in New York City earlier this week that he would extradite Santrich if the court says there is evidence he violated the terms of his demobilization.

The peace process seeks to end more than half a century of violence between the Marxists and the state.

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