Ex-FARC commander calls for Colombia rebels to take up arms

A former senior commander of the dissolved FARC rebel army in Colombia announced on Thursday, August 29 that he is taking up arms again along with other guerrillas who have distanced themselves from a historic peace accord signed with the government.

“We are announcing to the world that the second Marquetalia has begun,” Ivan Marquez, dressed in military fatigues, said in a video posted on YouTube, referring to a rural enclave considered a birthplace of the FARC in the 1960s.

Marquez, whose real name is Luciano Marín Arango, accused the government of betraying the accord under which 7,000 FARC fighters had laid down their weapons after half a century of armed conflict.

The whereabouts of Marquez, the FARC’s number two leader and chief negotiator of the 2016 peace agreement, had been unknown for more than a year.

In the video, Marquez appears in the jungle flanked by men and women holding rifles. Behind them is a FARC banner.

He said the government has cheated in implementation of the accord, unilaterally changed its wording, and failed to provide legal guarantees for former fighters, among other offenses.

All this, he said, “forced us to return to the field,” Marquez said.

“We were never defeated ideologically. Therefore, the fight continues,” said Marquez.

The FARC will coordinate with Colombia’s last active rebel group, the National Liberation Army, “and those comrades who have not folded up their flags,” he said.

Marquez and a fugitive rebel colleague, Jesus Santrich, have distanced themselves from the 2016 peace agreement.

Santrich, who went underground earlier this year after the United States sought to have him extradited on drug charges, also appeared in the video.

With United Nations support, the peace accord ended the insurrection by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and turned it into a political party called the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, which uses the same FARC acronym.

While it hasn’t ended violence in the country – other left-wing rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers are still waging their battles – it has helped to reduce it.

Conservative President Ivan Duque was elected last year with a promise to modify the accord, which he considers too lenient on ex-fighters guilty of serious crimes.

The FARC political party, meanwhile, has denounced delays in the application of the accord as well as a lack of legal guarantees and security for its members.

It has pointed to what it says are the murders of 140 former guerrillas, and 31 of their family members, since the agreement was signed.

Colombia army kills leader of FARC splinter group

With reporting from AFP

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