NewsLatin AmericaThe approaches with the Second Marquetalia begin between uncertainty and hope

The approaches with the Second Marquetalia begin between uncertainty and hope

This weekend the Segunda Marquetalia, one of the great dissidents of the extinct FARC, initiated a unilateral ceasefire against the State and released four people kidnapped in Narino as a humanitarian gesture. Behind these events, it has had rapprochements with the State, albeit slowly and without public meetings like the ones the Government had with the other major dissidence, led by alias ‘Ivan Mordisco’ and who calls themselves the “Central General Staff of the FARC”. A source from a civil organization in contact with Segunda Marquetalia confirmed to EL PAIS that there is interest in making new humanitarian gestures.

This dissidence has welcomed the policy of total peace, the government’s banner that consists of negotiating with all the armed groups in parallel to put an end to the violence. On September 22, he proclaimed a ceasefire with the State and said: “the conditions are in place to risk everything for complete peace with social justice.” The announcement had little impact because the spotlight was on the talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) and because another dozen groups also declared a ceasefire. But the Segunda Marquetalia insists on advancing: “We are ready to move towards an exploratory phase that allows us to jointly define an agenda for talks with the national government,” he wrote on December 15.

Still, the path is uphill. The dissidents have suffered strong military blows, which, although they could be an incentive to negotiate, have left them without commanders with the political legitimacy to do so. This is due to the deaths, in 2021, of Henry Castellanos, alias ‘Romana’, and Hernan Velasquez, alias ‘El Paisa’, both members of his Political Directorate; and especially since its commander Ivan Marquez suffered an attack with explosives in June that kept him in a coma for several days. According to information from Military Intelligence published in various media outlets, the head of the Second Marquetalia is still recovering from his serious injuries.

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Various sources agree that his physical absence is one of the causes of the slow rapprochement with the Government, because the other three members of the Political Directorate (alias ‘John 40′, alias ‘Walter Mendoza’ and alias ‘Zarco Aldiniever’) have experience and a more military look.

The four members of the Political Directorate participated directly or indirectly in the dialogues in Havana between 2012 and 2016. That can play against. In various public communications they have refused to appear again before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), created in the Agreement with the FARC. That creates one of the most controversial points in the entire policy of total peace, because some doubt his commitment to peace. In addition, Marquez was formally expelled from this court in November and its president, Roberto Vidal, assured that he could only re-enter if the law that regulates the JEP is changed via Congress.


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The Government promoted an extension of the Public Order Law that it called for total peace. But she created a path for them to return to the JEP, and she also does not define whether parallel courts would be created for other agreements. The Minister of the Interior, Alfonso Prada, says that “it will be the Peace Commissioner who defines the conditions in which he will negotiate with each of the actors.” The matter remains in a legal limbo.

The law allows the government to negotiate with organizations of a political nature, and to make agreements so that other groups submit to the law. To find out which one goes where, the Executive created a commission made up of the High Commissioner for Peace, Danilo Rueda; the Minister of Defense, Ivan Velasquez, and the Director of Intelligence of the National Police. For the former chief government negotiator in Havana, Senator Humberto de la Calle, this dissidence must be brought to justice, but the Second Marquetalia opposes it.

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In addition, the new reality of war makes the classification of groups more challenging, as explained by the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz) in the report ‘Desafio a la Paz Total’. The NGO indicates that after the laying down of arms by the former FARC guerrilla, local bands and combos have been strengthened that provide their services to the largest illegal armed groups. That logic, until 2016 more related to paramilitary groups, is now applied by dissidents.

The Second Marquetalia has used it as part of its response to the military coups that cut short its territorial expansion plans in the south of the country and that, for InSight Crime co-director Jeremy McDermott, decimated its military force under construction, “I see the Segunda Marquetalia as a less relevant force in Colombia. Most of their presence is in Venezuela and there is no chance that they will lead a reunification of the different dissident factions of the FARC”, he explains.

Precisely, the Indepaz researcher Juana Cabezas identified that this dissidence is present in fewer areas than in 2021 and that it has made alliances to confront the Western Coordinating Command (CCO), part of the dissidents commanded by ‘Ivan Mordisco’. In Narino they did it with the local gangs to create the Coordinadora Guerrilla del Pacifico and in Cauca they articulated with the ELN.

This reality of outsourcing part of their armed struggle makes it more complicated to define the framework that would apply to them, something that can reinforce another major obstacle to rapprochement: the mistrust of both parties. On repeated occasions, the commanders of the Second Marquetalia have accused the Government of Ivan Duque of having sabotaged their commitment to peace. The best-known case was that of Jesus Santrich, who denounced an alleged trap by the DEA and the Prosecutor’s Office to relate him to drug trafficking crimes and thus affect the signatories of the Agreement and its implementation, an accusation denied by those indicated.

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Added to this strong distrust is the uncertainty of a possible change in the presidency in the 2026 elections. Although there are four years to go, in the Second Marquetalia they remember that with the administration of Ivan Duque the implementation was adrift. That is why they are examining how to shield any type of conversations. In the words of the researcher, “they seek to avoid political and legal persecution after they sign a Peace Agreement. As well as avoiding pressure from other armed groups that ends in his murder, as has already happened”.

Fear is sustained. The National Reincorporation Council records the murder of around 350 ex-guerrillas within the reincorporation process of the former FARC, and more than 50 victimizing acts against their relatives. In fact, many of the members of the Second Marquetalia have affirmed that their return to arms was due to this lack of security guarantees.

Another crucial factor to take into account is Venezuela where the Government, the Military Forces and experts have warned of their presence. In October, Insight Crime, in the document “The Colombian-Venezuelan guerrilla: the migration of the war from Colombia to Venezuela,” explained it this way: “The members of the Second Marquetalia sought to claim themselves as the true heirs of the FARC, recruiting dissidents in all of Colombia, operating from the security that Venezuela offered them.”

Now, five days before a new year, the risk is that instead of moving towards peace, violence will increase. In a conversation with RAYA, a commander of this group in the Pacific warned, “if this process does not take place, there will be a terrible degradation of violence.”

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