This week, we Colombians gasped at the tragedy occurring in our country. The justice system is decaying, and high courts are pronouncing striking decisions. The left and the narco-traffickers are in the process of seizing power. FARC has managed to achieve what the famous Pablo Escobar couldn’t.
Escobar would have wanted to have his own court of justice, have the country’s mainstream media interview him and sit in Congress to legislate.
In the 1990s, everyone in Colombia knew that Pablo Escobar was a murderous drug trafficker. Similarly, today, everyone knows that the leader of the FARC, Jesus Santrich, or as the Council of State says, the “honorable congressman,” continues his drug trafficking business and everything that it implies. The entire country saw the video in which, after signing the Havana agreement, he negotiates details of the shipment of the “product” to the United States.
However, Santrich and his partners in “crime” are not “the most wanted” as Escobar was at the time; instead, they are in Congress, leading their so-called “agricultural projects.”
I sincerely believe that Ivan Duque and the Democratic Center, with the support of parties like MIRA, are trying to prevent the country from descending into chaos. But the situation is very complicated. The high courts are pronouncing judgments in favor of the more radical and criminal left, and many members of media and “intellectuals” are evidently on the side of the FARC. Congress is not on the President’s side either.
The justice system is corrupt
On May 15th, the JEP, the transitional justice that the guerrillas themselves created, ordered the release of Santrich and the maintenance of the “guarantee of non-extradition.” Two days later, Santrich was released after the Bogotá High Court responded to the defense’s request for habeas corpus. Magistrate Dagoberto Hernández ordered his immediate release, and others asked for an investigation into the reason why the arrest of the FARC leader had been “prolonged.”
Fortunately, The Attorney General’s arrested Santrich again minutes after his release from prison. The office explained that it had new evidence and was arresting Santrich for a different crime.
However, there was already enough evidence against Santrich. As those of us who said “no” for the Havana agreement had warned, Santrich continues to engage in criminal activities. However, in Colombia, the JEP rules. It is a justice system under the patronage of the Cubans born out of negotiations between Juan Manuel Santos, who was eager to win the Nobel Prize, and the worst assassins in the history of the country.
The US justice system sent a video that shows the guerilla leader negotiating the “shipment of the product.” However, for the JEP, the video isn’t enough evidence against Santrich. You do not have to be a technology expert to know that all film material leaves a record of its time and date, but for the JEP that wasn’t enough.
Colombians have already accepted that our justice system is corrupt; the JEP is like icing on the cake. There is even a “toga cartel” in Colombia. However, no one could have imagined this association between the justice system and Santrich. It is dystopian how the courts have conspired to set Santrich free, to let him occupy a position in the Congress, and yield to the JEP to shield the guerillas so that they don’t have to serve a single day in prison and are safe from extradition.
On Tuesday, May 28th, the Council of State issued the second ruling ratifying that it maintains the appointment of Jesus Santrich, arguing that the guerrilla leader did not take office as a congressman to be deprived of liberty, which for them is “a force majeure” or “an unforeseeable circumstance.”
It is amusing that for the Congress, imprisonment for trying to send cocaine to the US is “a force majeure” so that Santrich does not lose his seat in Congress: the one granted to him thanks to the Havana agreement.
The Council of State agrees with Santrich’s lawyers, saying that the prisoner maintains his congressional immunity, so it is the Supreme Court that should be in charge of his case. One day after the decision of the Council of State, on Wednesday, May 29th, the Supreme Court ordered Santrich’s release.
After the Supreme Court’s decision, the Attorney General’s Office ordered the arrest of the FARC member so that he could testify in the investigation for the alleged crimes of conspiracy to commit a crime for drug trafficking and aggravated drug trafficking, manufacture or carrying. But as we all Colombians know and as should have been clear to the reader, here the courts do what they want. They have no shame.
It was a dark Thursday for Colombians. In addition to Santrich’s case, the Constitutional Court overturned the objections made by President Ivan Duque to the statutory law of the JEP. The high court then asked the President to sanction the statutory law, which is the tool that gives legal support to the JEP for its operation.
What was the Constitutional Court’s objection?
- Establishing a clear way in which the guerillas will compensate their victims. (So far we don’t know whether the sentencing by JEP will be to the Senate instead of prison).
- Effective sentencing for those responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, or war crimes.
- Continuing the system of extradition.
I understand that the FARC guerrillas are against these points. Of course, they don’t want to suffer, they don’t want to face exile, and they want to go to Congress despite having committed crimes against humanity. But why do members of Congress and magistrates of the Constitutional Court oppose these measures?
Ivan Duque doesn’t have it easy
It is clear that the majority of Colombians want to end the JEP, and we want Santrich to be extradited. In the referendum of 2016, this was clear, and we confirmed our position once again by electing Ivan Duque.
I am not exonerating the Democratic Center for not having defended the result of the referendum as it rightly should have been. However, the President currently has Congress against him and in favor of the JEP. The high courts are doing what they want without any shame. Finally, the media saying that the government seeks to end peace.
Additionally, there is another problem that many are not considering. There are more than 200,000 hectares of land under coca cultivation in Colombia. FARC and its associates control a majority of this land. It means that they have a lot of money to pay for arms and men. So-called “FARC dissidents” are present in 16 of the 32 departments in the country. They are nothing but the same guerilla now led by their leaders in Congress.
Iván Duque has to make a decision. He can do the right thing and start a front line fight against all these criminals and face whatever comes his way with a corrupt Justice and a Congress entirely against him. Or he can decide not to challenge the courts or the “honorable” FARC congressmen. He can continue Juan Manuel Santos’ “strategy” of limiting the army and let criminals take over the country both in the countryside and in Congress.
It’s not easy. And even if the President chooses to do the right thing, there’s a chance we won’t succeed, but right now everyone has to do the right thing. We have to save the country.
We Colombians must put pressure on the congressmen who side with the FARC and turn their backs on the victims and good people. Journalists should start by ceasing to dedicate hours to criminals summoned for extradition whom they treat as if they were really “honorable senators.” Fortunately, little by little, more and more critical voices of journalism are emerging to say the obvious without fear.
In the Justice system, as in everything, there is always hope. Amid those corrupt courts, there must be honorable magistrates who must raise their voices and act. The right thing would be for the Supreme Court to order the capture of Santrich in the next few days.
The President should do what he has to do. It isn’t the time for hesitation.
Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.
Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.