5. On what date were you aware that Santrich was planning to flee justice and resume an armed terrorist war against the democratic government of Colombia?
Throughout the October 22 letter from former Congressman Connie Mack (R-FL) to Colombian Senator Iván Cepeda, the central element for the nine questions posed to Cepeda is his very close public alliance with FARC commander Jesus Santrich, under criminal federal indictment in the United States since April 2018 and now a fugitive from justice.
After Santrich was arrested in Colombia to facilitate his eventual extradition to face U.S. justice, Cepeda led an intense public campaign to free him and block his extradition. All the while, both Cepeda and Santrich repeatedly said the FARC leader would “respond to the pertinent institutions” in the Colombian justice system.
Santrich was freed in May 2019. Soon after, he vanished. On August 30, 2019, it was confirmed he’d escaped authorities and was under the protection of the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro, who is a co-defendant in the U.S. grand jury indictment for narco-terrorism.
- On July 8, several days after Santrich disappeared, Cepeda claimed to a reporter: “I have no information on Santrich.” (He didn’t say, however, if they’d spoken.)
- On several dates in July, Santrich fails to appear in court to – as both he and Cepeda had promised – “respond to the pertinent institutions” about the judicial actions in New York indicated in the Interpol Red Notice issued against him.
- On August 29, when reports began to surface of Santrich’s appearance in a FARC guerrilla video declaring a resumption of war against the democratic government, Cepeda quickly tweeted: “The announcement of the retaking of arms by a group of members of the FARC doesn’t mean the failure of the [peace] process.”
In other words, Cepeda preposterously argued that a resumption of a terrorist war by his closest ally in the FARC didn’t mean a failure of peace. This last fact raises the biggest question – how could Cepeda come to this conclusion?
- Does Cepeda expect the U.S. judicial system to believe he never communicated with Santrich between their June 13, 2020 appearance in Congress and the morning of August 29, 2020 when this tweet was posted?
- How can Cepeda’s intense campaign to free Santrich lead immediately to the FARC commander’s escape, and then Cepeda argue it was not a failure of peace, if there had been no coordination to seek this outcome?
- Was August 29, 2020 at approximately 5:00am Colombia time the precise moment that Cepeda knew of Santrich’s plan to escape, and not before?
Cepeda could simply answer Mack’s fifth question for the public and all of these doubts would be immediately addressed, probably dispelled. He could tweet his answer right this moment. Curiously, he refuses.
We’re waiting. #CepedaResponda