Former FARC leader vows to launch new offensive in Colombia
After ending a 50-year rebel war in their native Colombia in 2016, an ex-commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has threatened in a video message that the former guerrilla group will launch a new offensive.
"This is the continuation of the rebel fight in answer to the betrayal of the state of the Havana peace accords," said Ivan Marquez, the alias of one of the two former commanders from the group who featured in the 32-minute Youtube video.
"We were never beaten or defeated ideologically, so the struggle continues," he added. In the video, he appears in green fatigues, surrounded by armed fighters, and says the footage was shot in Colombia’s Amazon rainforest.
Marquez was one of the main negotiators of the 2016 peace agreement, which has had a number of issues since the signing. Hundreds of former rebels and human rights activists have been murdered, delays in funding the economic rehabilitation for ex-combatants, as well as the ongoing political stigma of being formerly affiliated with FARC has also proven to be a problem.
In the video Marquez said their aim is to have a government that will restore peace, which includes fighting corruption, fighting fracking, and making those in illegal economies pay, including multinational companies.
Colombian President Ivan Duque said previously that former fighters who truly want to disarm will be supported. He was elected on the ticket that he would change parts of the 2016 deal, but has been thwarted by congress and the judiciary.
The government has not reacted to the video.
Dissident group within former FARC rebels
The new group, put together by Marquez (birth name: Luciano Marin) will work to coordinate with leftist rebels in the National Liberation Army (ELN), he said, adding that kidnapping and ransom will not be used for financing.
"All of this, this trick, this betrayal, this perfidy, the unilateral modification of the text of the accord, the unfulfilled commitments on the part of the state, the judicial set-ups and insecurity, have obliged us to return to the mountains," said Marquez.
Not everyone formerly affiliated with FARC agrees with him, however.
“Our commitment today more than ever, as a majority, as a party, as a country, is peace, defense and compliance with the agreement,” said Rodrigo Londono, a former FARC commander known as Timochenko, wrote on Twitter.
“Those who move away from peace are mistaken, as those who have always attacked it," he added.
Nuestro compromiso hoy más que nunca, como mayoría, como partido, como país, es la paz, la defensa y cumplimiento del acuerdo. Se equivocan quienes se alejan de la paz, como quienes la han atacado siempre. Somos @PartidoFARC #SeguimosPorLaPaz pic.twitter.com/wiV7Uq0tamRodrigo Londoño (@TimoFARC) August 29, 2019
Former FARC members have gone in a number of directions since the 13,000 members, including 7,000 armed members, put down their arms in 2016.
Some reintegrated and went back to their families, while others kept their weapons and regrouped, working in drug trafficking, illegal mining, or attacking the military.
The start of a new guerrilla group by Ivan Márquez is a politically significant event, but at this point does not alter the country’s security profile or security risks,” said Sergio Guzman, founder of Colombia Risk Analysis.
“Most likely members of the group aren't even in Colombia to begin with," he added.
Many are reportedly now based in Venezuela.
More than 260,000 people have been killed during the rebel years, as well as fighting carried out by crime gangs and right-wing paramilitaries.