Santrich disappeared between Saturday evening and Sunday morning from a FARC reintegration site in the north of the country leaving his bodyguards a note he would spend the night with one of his children.
After the former guerrilla ideologue still has not appeared by Sunday evening and the leadership of the FARC apparently failed to contact him, the political party sent out a statement warning Santrich that “if any member decides to move away from the [peace] process or carries out activities that are outside the law, he must accept the consequences.”
We invite Jesus Santrich to reaffirm with his presence, in the scenarios assigned to him by the leadership of the party, the commitments acquired in his years of revolutionary militia and in virtue of the Peace Agreement.
Radical former priest Bernardo Hoyos told public television network Canal 1 that Santrich had fled to Venezuela after hearing rumors of an impending assassination attempt during a visit he planned in Barranquilla for Sunday.
I believe Venezuelan security informed him that they wanted to take him out either entering or leaving Barranquilla.
Santrich’s alleged plan to flee to the neighboring country, where he also has citizenship, was confirmed by commercial network Caracol that reported that “top government sources and intelligence agencies warn that Santrich would have tried to cross the border with Venezuela. For this reason, a maximum alert has been issued to prevent him from achieving this goal.”
The reintegration site from where the FARC leader disappeared is located in a village at only 20 miles from the Venezuelan border.
Santrich’s last activity on Twitter was Sunday morning when he retweeted a Geneva Convention protocol saying “perfidy is a form of deception in which one party pretends to act in good faith, with the intention of breaking that promise once the enemy is defenseless.”
The National Protection Unit (UNP) that is in charge of Santrich’s protection said earlier on Sunday that the former rebel leader had gone missing, calling on him to report either to the UNP or his team of bodyguards that largely consist for FARC members.
As part of the peace process, Santrich is free to go where he wants as long as he doesn’t leave the country or fails to appear at any of the hearings of the war crimes tribunal that is investigating war crimes committed by the FARC and the military during the armed conflict between 1964 and 2016.
Santrich was released last month, more than a year after he was jailed on a so-far unsubstantiated US drug trafficking charge that plunged the peace process in crisis.
Following his release, the former rebel leader was sworn in as a member of Congress where he was supposed to have taken seat in August last year already.
Immediately after being sworn in, Santrich reaffirmed his commitment to the war crimes tribunal and vowed he would cooperate with the Supreme Court that is investigating the drug trafficking claim he and the FARC have consistently called a “set-up.”