Statement by Unite the Union on 9 April 2018 on the arrest of FARC peace negotiator and politician Jesús Santrich.
Unite is outraged by the news that the FARC negotiator and peace campaigner Jesus Santrich has been arrested in Colombia on trumped up charges, on the orders of the United States. Santrich, who now faces extradition to the United States, is an architect of the peace process. His work has been central to ending decades of bloodshed in Colombia.
It’s no coincidence that Santrich’s arrest follows the announcement that President Trump will be visiting Colombia this month. This deplorable act shows that the Santos government is willing to jeopardise the whole peace process in order to curry favour with President Trump.
Unite and many others around the world have put a huge amount of effort in to support the peace process, and despite many difficulties we were hopeful it would remain on track. This arrest of a member of the secretariat can only be seen as a full frontal attack on the peace process itself and will have huge repercussions.
Currently Unite is participating in an international peace monitoring delegation to Colombia that had only just met with Jesus before he was arrested. Speaking from Colombia Kate Osborne, Unite EC member said:
“Unite is utterly stunned and appalled at Jesus’ arrest. We now face the terrible prospect of history repeating itself. Those who have sacrificed the most in pursuit of peace once again live in fear of arrest, intimidation and indeed their lives.”
The arrest of Santrich, who was set to take a seat in the Colombian congress later this year, is the most overt sign of the Colombian government undermining the peace process. This follows the continuation of murders of trade unionists and community activists to which the government have continued to ignore.
We call on international community to immediately put pressure on the Colombian government to allow the UN access to Jesus Santrich, to demand his immediate release, and to insist that the Colombian government respect and fully implement the peace agreement on which so many lives depend.