According to local media, guerrilla Jess Santrich was killed in a clash between armed groups in Venezuela. This newspaper has received confirmation from two sources involved in the peace process.
The Colombian government said its intelligence services had received reports that Santrich, 53, had been killed in a gunfight, but that it would investigate further. On Tuesday, Defense Minister Diego Molano sent out a statement, “Intelligence information indicates that in alleged clashes that occurred yesterday in Venezuela, alias “Santrich” and other criminals were killed.”
He added, “Information in verification. If this fact is confirmed, it is verified that drug criminals take refuge in Venezuela.”
Información de inteligencia señala que en presuntos enfrentamientos ocurridos ayer en Venezuela habría muerto alias “Santrich” y otros delincuentes. Información en verificación. De confirmarse este hecho, se comprueba que en Venezuela se refugian narcocriminales.
Seuxis Pausias Hernández Solarte, also known as Jess Santrich, was a rebel leader in Colombia’s Revolutionary Armed Forces–Army. He was born on 31 July 1967.
Until August 2019, he was a member of Colombia’s Chamber of Representatives and the FARC’s envoy to the Colombian peace talks in Havana.
He was 53 years old.
How Did Jesus Santrich Die? (Death Cause)
At this time, there are few details about the death. May 17, fighting began on Venezuelan soil. Molano’s tweet makes no mention of Columbian powers being involved in the ‘clashes,’ leaving a lot of people guessing about what happened. Given that the clashes took place on Venezuelan soil, Columbian forces are unlikely to have been present.
He was killed in clashes “between armed groups,” according to El Pais, but the publication did not specify the groups that were involved. It is most likely the outcome of clashes between local groups, probably drug gangs, who came into contact with FARC rebel-held territory. There’s also the possibility that Santrich was killed by Venezuelan forces attempting to save some of their own.
Eight soldiers were abducted by FARC rebels on the banks of the Arauca River, on the Colombia-Venezuela border, last week, according to reports. It’s uncertain if Venezuela has undertaken a formal rescue operation. Santrich was one of over 1,500 armed FARC rebels who refused to hand over their arms after the 2016 peace agreement. He initially supported the agreement and was also considered for one of the ten congressional seats reserved for former insurgents.
All of that changed after he was indicted by the US government, prompting him to flee the country in mid-2019. He made his last recorded public appearance in August of that year, in a video announcing a new offensive against the Columbian government.
The US believed he was hiding in Venezuela, but no further information was released. Santrich could be extradited to the United States, the Columbian Supreme Court of Justice ruled last week.