He graduated and continued studying Social Sciences, Education and History.
After leaving university, Santrich briefly became the ombudsman of the Coloso municipality.
He joined the FARC in 1988 amid a far-right extermination campaign of members of the leftist Patriotic Union party that cost the lives of thousands of activists and political leaders.
Santrich became one of the ideologues of the FARC’s 19th Front, which was active in the Caribbean region, and became a leading voice with the guerrillas’ “Voice of the Resistance” radio station.
While in the FARC, the guerrilla leader became close to “Ivan Marquez,” another former politician who took up arms in the 1980s.
Over the years, Santrich’ vision worsened because of a genetic illness. Over the past few years he has been wearing sunglasses and has said to be almost blind.
Santrich was one of the first members of the FARC’s peace delegation and was present at the formal beginning of talks in Norway in 2012.
After the talks ended and a peace deal was agreed with the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, the former guerrilla leader took part in the three-party verification commission.
As the FARC’s delegate in this commission Santrich was in charge of mediating with the United Nations and the national authorities over alleged violations of the peace deal.
As part of the agreement, the FARC was granted 10 seats in Congress for a period of two terms. The former guerrilla leader was appointed the leader of the Marxists’ faction in the House of Representatives in August 2010.
Santrich was surprisingly arrested in April 2018 after the US requested his extradition, claiming he took part in a conspiracy to send cocaine to the United States while taking part in the peace process.
Colombia’s war crimes tribunal ruled in May 2019 there was no evidence to sustain this claim and ordered the FARC leader’s immediate release.