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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
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Colombian Lawyer Wins Review Of Asylum Claim

ATLANTA (CN) - The 11th Circuit remanded the asylum petition of a Colombian lawyer and political activist who claimed she was politically persecuted, threatened, attacked, terrorized, kidnapped and beaten by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Ximena Sanz de Santamaria was an active member of the Colombian Liberal Party and was formerly married to the Colombian ambassador to Peru. In 1993, while studying law, she joined the New Democratic Force, a group devoted to advancing democracy in Colombia.

She often traveled to the region of Mosquera, where she raised money for the poor, helped build schools, held political meetings and campaigned for the re-election of a mayor who opposed FARC.

This placed her on a list of FARC's political enemies. She claimed the group threatened her life, and called her an "enemy of the people" and a "bourgeoise governmental bitch." FARC forces allegedly kidnapped her, loaded her into a van and drove her to a mountain camp where she was told she would meet the local FARC commander and then be killed. It was only through the intervention of the Colombian military that she was rescued and airlifted to a hospital to treat her wounds, her asylum petition claims.

She fled to the United States in August 2000 to seek asylum. The immigration judge found her testimony credible and consistent, but denied her application because she had returned to her native country five times.

The circuit found that Santamaria suffered past persecution and has a well-founded fear of future persecution, despite returning, because she went back to "remain with her family and work against those responsible for her persecution and the persecution of others. Courage does not negate fear." See ruling.

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