For several months, the Venezuelan Army has conducted a counterinsurgency campaign against Colombian guerrillas in the border state of Apure—a situation that has the potential to spill over into Colombia. During one recent clash, Colombian guerrilla Seuxis Pausias Hernández Solarte, alias Jesús Santrich, a wanted fugitive of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who had rejected the landmark 2016 peace deal, was killed in the fighting.

The circumstances of his death remain considerably murky, notes the Spanish-language version of the well-known US media outlet CNN Español. The author notes that several versions of Santrich’s death have emerged. While the Colombian authorities, such as Defense Minister Diego Molano, maintain that Santrich died in fighting between rival groups contesting territory, the dissidents claimed on their website that Colombian commandos crossed the Venezuelan border and assassinated him. Meanwhile El Nacional, a Venezuelan daily known for its criticism of the Chávez and Maduro regimes, reports on an anonymous source that intimates a Colombian special command may have received assistance from former guerrillas in locating and assassinating Santrich.

If Colombian commandos did play a role in Santrich’s death, it would demonstrate not only an increase in their capabilities but also a greater willingness to conduct cross-border operations when core national interests are at stake.

The circumstances in which…Jesús Santrich died are not clear, but there are versions of the Colombian government, analysts, and the FARC’s own dissidents that can give some clues.

Source: “¿Cómo murió Jesús Santrich? Lo que sabemos hasta el momento (How did Jesús Santrich die? What we know so far),” CNN Español (Spanish-language version of the wellknown US media outlet), 20 May 2021. https://cnnespanol.cnn.com/2021/05/20/analisis-muerte-jesus-santrich-colombia-orix/

The circumstances in which…Jesús Santrich died are not clear, but there are versions of the Colombian government, analysts, and the FARC’s own dissidents that can give some clues…In a statement on the dissidents’ website, which was online for a few hours and was later removed, they stated that the death occurred on the Venezuelan side of the Serranía del Perijá and occurred ‘in an ambush executed by commandos of the Colombian Army on May 17.’ Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano told CNN… that the guerrilla’s death occurred in confrontations between criminal groups in Venezuelan territory.

Source: “Las FARC de Iván Márquez aseguran que exguerrilleros participaron en plan para asesinar a Jesús Santrich (Iván Márquez’s FARC assures that ex-guerrillas participated in a plan to assassinate Jesús Santrich),” El Nacional (the Venezuelan daily known for its criticism of the Chávez and Maduro regimes), 27 May 2021. https://www.elnacional.com/mundo/las-farc-de-ivan-marquezaseguran-que-exguerrilleros-participaron-en-plan-para-asesinar-ajesus-santrich/

The FARC dissidents led by ex-guerrilla Iván Márquez insisted on their version of the events that would have surrounded the death of Jesús Santrich in Venezuelan territory…[they] pointed out that…it was an operation of a special command ‘made up of five Army commandos and three ex-combatants familiar with the area,’ with whom they drew up the plan and the trap to assassinate Santrich. According to their version, the ex-guerrillas would have served as informants to reach the site where the former head of the disappeared FARC was, who deserted the peace process and rearmed himself.

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