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Winds of War or Momentum for Peace?

Maria Paula Unigarro Alba

Posted on September 2, 2019 18:59

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Ivan Marquez, FARC leader, announced the rise of a new guerrilla. In a video, accompanied by three FARC leaders and other combatants, Marquez assures that their return to arms is due to the Government’s failure to implement the peace agreement signed in 2016.

This news is shocking but not unexpected. Marquez, El Paisa, Romaña and Santrich – commanders that appear in the video – had all long ago abandoned reincorporation zones established by the government. These commanders represent the most combative wing of the guerrilla, and there have been denounces of some of them being involved in drug trafficking after the signature of the peace accord.

With that in mind, scenario seems to be clear: this is a group of guerrilla members who were never fully committed to the agreement, who gave up on it as soon as they had a chance, and who are now reunited trying to go back to war.

Even though the announcement is alarming and represents a threat to security in Colombia, the magnitude of its impact should be examined calmly. A statement made by Marquez referring to the new guerrilla strategy suggests that this dissenting group does not have the military capacity they used to. First, he argues that they are not planning to attack the militaries or police officers, but the “oligarchy” which is historically responsible for social injustice in the country. Second, he assures that they will seek collaboration opportunities with the ELN, another guerrilla group still active that has always been smaller than FARC. These declarations indicate some military weakness from this new guerrilla.  

Additionally, Marquez claims that they are taking arms again to continue fighting for social justice and equality. He claims that the Government has spoiled the implementation of the peace agreement, which was supposed to improve all Colombians' well-being. With this, he tries to justify their intentions of armed action. Fortunately, this outdated discourse has not received any visible support at all.

Rodrigo Londoño, ex-FARC commander and now director of the FARC political party, answered to Marquez’ video shortly after it was published. He claimed to be ashamed because of his former fellows’ decision, and he assured that he and most ex-combatants will keep their word and stick to the peace agreement.

Former President Santos, in whose government the peace process took place, and his negotiating team condemned Marquez declarations. They requested institutions to take all applicable legal measures.

President Duque stated that his government will take all legal dispositions to combat this new armed group. But most importantly, although he has opposed to many aspects of the peace accord, he also assured that his administration will continue supporting all former combatants that comply with the reintegration process.

In response to the video, Duque and the High Commissioner for Peace affirmed that Marquez and company are just a minority, and that 90% of the ex-combatants are fully committed to their reincorporation.

Given these unexpected reactions from the government, one could say that there is something positive from Marquez's statements: it is the opportunity for Duque to truly commit to implementation of the accord.

Hopefully, this threat will convince many that is more beneficial to have former combatants working for their communities, rather than fighting a nonsense war.

Maria Paula Unigarro Alba

Posted on September 2, 2019 18:59

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Source: Reuters
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CORDILLERA ORIENTAL, Colombia (Reuters) - After three decades fighting in the remote mountains of Colombia for a Marxist...

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