The alleged death “in combat” in Venezuelan territory of the Colombian guerrilla commander Jesús Santrich could end up being “breaking news” for Semana news magazine, but it is more likely that it will end up ranking in the top ten of fake news—which is saying a lot because the story concerns Colombia, a country where fabricating fake news, mounting false flag operations, and producing smokescreens is already part of the daily modus operandi of the ruling elite, inextricably associated with its media apparatus.
The alleged news is trending on social media networks and remains as such although, after twelve hours, it is still based on a tweet by the Colombian journalist Vicky Dávila, director of the magazine, and on a very ambiguous “confirmation” from the Colombian Minister of Defense, Diego Molano.
“Attention! It is certain, Jesús Santrich died in Venezuela in the midst of a confrontation between illegals groups. Developing news at http://semana.com,” wrote the journalist who, since she took over the reins of the Colombian magazine last November, has led the once respected media outlet into the outright support of Uribismo.
A close reading of the piece published on Semana‘s website about the alleged “developing news” does yield any additional data, except that the information is allegedly based on “undisclosed” Venezuelan sources. The article is bulked up with biographical details about Santrich, whose real name is Seuxis Paucias Hernández Solarte.
The only official reaction to the announcement was that of Molano, also via Twitter. His chirp has traces typical of a false positive, highlighting as the most important fact Santrich’s purported death in Venezuelan territory. The minister wrote: “Intelligence sources indicate that in alleged confrontations that occurred yesterday in Venezuela, alias ‘Santrich’ and other criminals were killed. Information to be verified. If this fact is confirmed, it is verified that drug criminals are taking refuge in Venezuela.”
Both the version of the magazine and the statement by Molano (a sworn enemy of Venezuela) lack substantiating force, not only of the supposed death of Santrich, but also—and mainly—that the alleged death actually occurred in Venezuelan territory. It falls to both of these actors of the Colombian ruling right (Semana and the government of Iván Duque) to prop up the claim, which otherwise is nothing more than a rumor.
It is not at all strange that the Colombian government would releases this type of information using the powerful mass media they control, as they belong to the same ruling oligarchy.
One of many examples of similar releases, also international in scope, occurred recently with respect to Ecuador’s presidential election. The same magazine, Semana, published a “news piece” claiming that the leftist candidate Andrés Arauz had received funding from the National Liberation Army (ELN), which was apparently proven by materials stored on the computer of Andrés Vanegas Londoño, aka “Commandante Uriel.” After the disclosure of this story, automatically echoing it, the Attorney General of Colombia Francisco Barbosa traveled to Ecuador to accuse Arauz.
Shortly after, the report was found to be a hoax. Another Colombian outlet , El Espectador, published an article entitled: “The sound of a bird helped prove that an alleged ELN video was false.”
Twitter user @sergionacional commented the following: “Before, Semana was the one that dismantled hoaxes (fake news)… Now it is a laughingstock with these tweets…”
The “information” on Santrich also has the typical characteristics of a distraction, of a smokescreen to divert attention away from the tense internal situation in Colombia, immediately after Duque ordered the deployment throughout the country (not only in Cali) of all available military and police forces to silence and repress the national strike protests by militarizing Colombia.
Uribismo is on the ropes, after almost three weeks of strike and with a bloody result in terms of people killed, injured, disappeared, sexually assaulted, and detained. That is why a topic that diverts attention onto Venezuela, one of the most recurrent reasons for its false positives, would be very convenient.
The news is also intended to distort what has been happening in the border area of Apure, where the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB) has been facing off against Colombian criminal groups for more than a month, while the Colombian government turns a blind eye, thereby protecting the Colombian narco-terrorist gangs. This indifferent attitude, incidentally, would seem to demolish the narrative that the terrorist gangs are actually dissident groups of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP, of which Santrich is a member).
The dissemination of this “information” through the alliance formed by the media machinery and the Colombian government is reason enough to be very alert in Venezuela, considering that the darkest machinations directed against Venezuelan stability have begun in Colombia, including the failed assassination against President Maduro (August 2018), an unauthorized incursion attempt under the guise of introducing humanitarian aid (February 2019), an invasion with paramilitary and mercenary forces (May 2020), and the asymmetric war situation in Apure (started in March and is still continuing).
If confirmed, would this constitute another Colombian military violation of the territory of a neighboring country?
There is no statement yet from Venezuelan authorities on the issue, nor any further elaboration from the Colombian side. At press time a statement from FARC-EP posted in their website confirms Santrich’s assassination:
We inform Colombia and the world with pain in our hearts, the sad news of the death of Commander Jesús Santrich, a member of the FARC-EP Directorate, Segunda Marquetalia, in an ambush executed by Colombian army commandos on May 17.
If confirmed by Venezuelan authorities it would be a fragrant violation of Venezuelan territory similar to the one executed by Colombia when they killed—by bombing Ecuadorian territory—another historic FARC leader, Manuel Marulanda.
The alleged FARC-EP notification continued:
It happened in the Serranía del Perijá, a binational border area, between El Chalet and the village of Los Laureles, within Venezuelan territory. The Colombian commandos penetrated up to that place by direct order of President Iván Duque. The truck in which the commander [Santrich] was traveling was attacked with rifle fire and grenade explosions. After the crime, the murderers cut the little finger off his left hand. A few minutes later, near the scene, the commandos were quickly extracted in a yellow helicopter bound for Colombia.
Orinoco Tribune editorial staff tried to reach the referred FARC-EP website without luck, receiving the following error message: “Error establishing a database connection.” The statement transcript that we decided to use was taken from the notably right-wing media outlet Caraota Digital.
Whether the story is that he was killed by commandos, by bounty hunters, in unclear circumstances, or even if it is claimed that Santrich died in an armed clash with the Venezuelan army would be irrelevant, because in the end the only one that might be behind his assassination would be the warmonger government of Iván Duque in Colombia.
If the FARC-EP statement is confirmed surely the Venezuelan government will issue a statement soon, in view of the flagrant violation of Venezuelan territorial sovereignty that an incident like this might imply.
Featured image: FARC-EP commander Jesús Santrich wearing a Palestinian scarf (keffiyeh
(La IguanaTV) with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune