HomeColombiaSeuxis Pausías Hernández, alias 'Jesús Santrich'
COLOMBIA

Seuxis Pausías Hernández, alias 'Jesús Santrich'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / LATEST UPDATE MAY 18, 2021 EN

Seuxis Pausías Hernández Solarte, alias “Jesús Santrich,” was a senior former FARC commander who participated in that guerrilla group's demobilization process before taking up arms again in 2019 to form a new dissident force known as the Second Marquetalia (Segunda Marquetalia). He was killed in May 2021 in Venezuela in uncertain circumstances.

Santrich was one of the most important delegates for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) at their peace talks with the Colombian government, and he was involved in the drafting of the final peace agreement signed in 2016. Though he was granted a seat in Colombia’s congress as part of the agreement, he could not be sworn in because he faced charges for his alleged involvement in sending a drug shipment to the United States. This led to him being arrested and released from jail twice, until he ultimately fled from a FARC reintegration camp in July 2019.

Santrich then appeared to be based along the remote Venezuela-Colombia border, with other dissident FARC leaders. An influential voice among the guerrillas, he seemed to be a key negotiator for the new Segunda Marquetalia when it came to brokering ties with other former FARC groups, other armed factions and Venezuelan authorities.

It was reported on May 18, 2021 that Santrich had been killed in clashes in Venezuela

History

Seuxis Pausías Hernández Solarte was born in 1966 in Toluviejo, in the department of Sucre, where his parents were teachers. During his student years, he joined the Colombia Communist Youth (Juventud Comunista de Colombia – JUCO) and then became a militant member of the Patriotic Union (Unión Patriótica – UP), a recognized left-wing party. After graduation, he became a local official in Sucre's municipality of Colosó,

In 1991, he joined the FARC after one of his colleagues was killed by members of the former Administrative Department of Security (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad – DAS). His alias within the guerrilla group was taken as tribute to his friend, Jesús Santrich. His role in the creation of Resistance Radio (Radio Resistencia) and his friendship with Luciano Marin Arango, alias “Iván Márquez,” saw him quickly gain importance within the FARC. He became a key figure within the 19th Front of the FARC’s Caribbean Bloc, despite suffering from Leber’s Disease, a degeneration of the eye which has left him nearly blind.

One of his most important tasks was to help lead the FARC’s communications and propaganda efforts through a clandestine network of broadcasts, such as Cadena Radial Bolivariana and Voz de la Resistencia. It is believed that the website, resistencia-colombia.org, which featured exclusive content from the FARC, was also run by Santrich.

He also took part in the peace process with the government of President Andrés Pastrana (1998-2002).

Santrich, who lived along the border with Venezuela, played a key role in the FARC’s relationship with Caracas, as Santrich is known to have been an avid believer in former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and his Bolivarian Revolution. In 2007, he and Márquez met with Chávez in Venezuela to discuss a humanitarian agreement.

In 2008, he joined the FARC’s General Staff. When peace talks began between the FARC and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos in 2012, he became one of the FARC’s main negotiators.

After the signing of the final peace agreement, Santrich became one of the three FARC representatives in the Monitoring and Implementation Commission of the Agreement (CSIVI), overseeing the peace process. He was also set to be one of the 10 FARC representatives in Congress in July 2018.

But his entry into Congress was blocked after his indictment by US federal prosecutors on drug charges. The April 2018 arrest of Santrich and the demand by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) for his extradition set off a legal firestorm since FARC members -- under the peace agreement -- cannot be extradited for crimes committed prior to December 1, 2016. The Attorney General’s Office wanted him extradited, but Colombia’s peace court, the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz – JEP), asked for more evidence about his alleged crimes and their timeframe.

In May 2019, about a year after Santrich’s arrest, the JEP’s judges blocked the extradition of Santrich because they could not confirm, based on the evidence given to them, whether Santrich broke the terms of the peace agreement. Santrich was released from prison, but the Colombian prosecutors had him immediately rearrested, saying they had new evidence against him. Santrich was then released again, this time by the Supreme Court, because he was still considered to have immunity as a member of congress, though he had not been seated.

He moved to a designated Territorial Space for Training and Reincorporation (Espacio Territorial de Capacitación y Reincorporación – ETCR) in the northern Cesar department, along the Venezuela border. He did not stay for long. With the help of a comrade, Santrich climbed through his housing’s window, and then he fled across the border into Venezuela.

After the formation of the Segunda Marquetalia, he appeared to mostly be based between Apure, Venezuela and Arauca, Colombia before his death in May 2021.

Criminal Activity

During his time with the FARC, Santrich was one of the main leaders of the Caribbean Bloc. Due to his degenerative illness leaving him blind, he became known as a spokesperson, focusing on ideology and propaganda, rather than on military action. Two years after signing the peace agreement, he was accused of sending 10 tons of cocaine to the United States.

The drug smuggling operation allegedly happened between June 2017 and April 2018, and involved Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel. It appears that the charges against him stem from a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operation in which Marlon Marín -- the nephew of Iván Márquez -- was observed retrieving $5 million from a DEA informant acting as an emissary for the cartel.

Geography

Hernández joined the Caribbean Block of the FARC, specifically the 19th Front that operated in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The group also had influence in the region of the Montes de María, the Serrania de Perijá and the departments of Sucre and Córdoba. By consolidating himself as an important member of the General Staff, he was able to expand his influence to other regions such as Nariño, Putumayo, Guainía and Caquetá and establish contact with important leaders of criminal groups such as the dissidence of the FARC and the Urabeños.

After the formation of the Segunda Marquetalia, he appeared to mostly be based between Apure, Venezuela and Arauca, Colombia before his death in May 2021.

Allies and Enemies

Hernández was known to have been close to Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera, alias "Simón Trinidad," who was extradited to the United States in 2004. He also maintained a strong friendship with Luciano Marín Arango, alias “Iván Márquez,” another former top FARC commander, member of the General Staff and former leader of the Caribbean Bloc.

Outside of former FARC leaders, Santrich maintained contact with other dissident FARC groups, including those led by Miguel Botache Santillana, alias “Gentil Duarte” and Géner García Molina, alias “Jhon 40.” He was also suspected of having direct contact with Rafael Caro Quintero, alias “Don Rafa,” one of the founders of the now-defunct Guadalajara Cartel and once an important member of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Santrich was also a major target of the US government, which offered a $10 million reward for his capture, as well as Iván Márquez, in June 2020 due to their alleged connections to the Venezuelan government.

Prospects

Despite initially accepting to demobilize and being part of the FARC's negotiation team, Santrich abandoned the peace process in July 2019 and formed the Segunda Marquetalia that August, alongside Iván Márquez.

The Colombian government issued a colossal reward for his capture but it appears Santrich moved to Venezuela shortly after. He remained at large for two years until his death in May 2021. Different versions of his death suggested he may have been killed by Colombian troops, Venezuelan armed forces or by rival dissident FARC factions.

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