|U.S. imperialism increasingly acts to destroy what it cannot control. With the prospects for a stable peace in Colombia at a critical point and concerns mounting over the failure of the Colombian government to implement commitments it agreed to in the Peace Agreement it signed to end the war with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP), the dirty hand of U.S. imperialism is seen intervening to try to derail it entirely.
In a direct blow to the peace process, a member of the National Political Council of the new political party formed as an outcome of the peace accords, the People's Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) was arrested in Bogota on April 9 on the order of Colombia's Prosecutor General. The arrest and detention came in response to an Interpol warrant and request by the U.S. government that the FARC leader in question, Jesús Santrich, be extradited to stand trial in a U.S. court based on a New York Grand Jury indictment for allegedly conspiring to export cocaine to the United States.
In the Prosecutor General's haste to accede to the U.S. request for a high level FARC member's extradition, he reportedly did not even bother to consult with the Colombian president, much less the president of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, the alternative justice system tied to the Peace Agreement, which is the first jurisdiction that is supposed to review any allegations against former FARC-EP guerrilla fighters.
Santrich was a member of FARC-EP's peace negotiating team and one of the signatories to the Final Peace Agreement signed in November 2016. He is also one of ten members of the new political party who as of July 20 will occupy a seat in the National Congress as provided for in the section of the agreement dealing with political participation.
Reporting of the arrest by the monopoly-owned media has been done in a sensational manner, using bits and pieces of what is called "evidence" that was leaked to them to carry out a media lynching -- not just of the person arrested but of the entire leadership of the new political party and the peace process itself.
The Peace Agreement has long been the target of the most reactionary, warmongering sections of the Colombian oligarchy that were behind the dirty "No" campaign of lies and disinformation used to manipulate voters into rejecting it in the October 2016 national plebiscite.
Candidates of these reactionary forces in next month's presidential election are campaigning on a platform of further mutilating the Peace Agreement. They have already forced changes to it using Congress and other organs of State power, notably the Office of the Prosecutor General who has made it his mission to weaken and limit the scope of the Special Jurisdiction of Peace.
The arrest, extradition request and leaking of "evidence" allegedly obtained by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration came just days before the opening of the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru and Donald Trump's first official visit to Colombia. A last minute change in plans resulted in Trump deciding to remain in the U.S. so he could give priority to destroying the possibility of peace in Syria instead.
The arrest also came as pressure was mounting on the Colombian government and President Juan Manuel Santos in particular, who has barely three months left in office, to put in place the long overdue resources and guarantees required for FARC members' security and reincorporation into civilian life.
Santrich's arrest came when Norway, as one of the two guarantor countries of the Peace Agreement along with Cuba, had sent its Prime Minister Erna Solberg to Colombia. She was visiting the Territorial Spaces for Training and Reincorporation around the country, where FARC members currently reside under difficult conditions, to evaluate the progress in implementation of the terms of the Peace Agreement. The day before, an important conference had concluded, where the Norwegian Prime Minister as well as representatives of Cuba, the UN and the Colombian government heard reports from FARC members about the problems they are experiencing as a result of the government's non-fulfilment of many of its commitments to them.
It is important to condemn this latest act of perfidy by U.S. imperialism against the Colombian people's efforts to find a political solution to end over 50 years of armed conflict in their country -- a conflict instigated and maintained by the U.S.
It is also important to call on the Colombian government to live up to the commitments it made to the FARC, the war's victims and the Colombian people in the Peace Agreement it signed that was ratified in its Congress and by the country's Constitutional Court. It must fully implement everything it committed to without further delay or concessions to pro-war sectors inside and outside the country attempting to obstruct the agreement's implementation and smash the prospects for peace that it will open up.
Canadians stand with the people of Colombia in their ongoing fight for peace with social justice. Even under difficult conditions, when U.S.-orchestrated media lynchings and judicial frame-ups have become the order of the day to attack the people's forces and their projects, the organized Colombian people will foil the attempts by pro-war forces to smash their growing unity and divide the public opinion that has been created for the building of a lasting peace with social justice and a new Colombia.
1. Since the signing of the Peace Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC in November 2016, over 50 members of FARC or their relatives and some 200 other social and political activists have been assassinated. Six hundred FARC members and several hundred other political prisoners who were supposed to be released more than a year ago under the Amnesty Law remain imprisoned. FARC members report that land and other resources promised to former guerrilla fighters and communities affected by the war to set up agricultural and other productive projects so they can become economically self-sufficient have not been provided; few serious training programs are being delivered as promised; there is a lack of adequate housing, basic sanitation and health services as well as food supplies in areas leased on a temporary basis for FARC members to stay with their families to receive training and develop projects that will allow for them to sustain themselves financially; security guarantees are lacking even as FARC members, who have long since turned over all their weapons, are killed with impunity by known or suspected paramilitary groups while state officials deny the existence of a systematic campaign against their lives and those of other social leaders and take no action to stop it.