Former President of Colombia, Iván Duque, has demanded that the Colombian state hand over Ivan Marquez, former commander of the now-defunct FARC and current leader of one of the most significant dissident illegal groups from the 2016 peace agreements. After months of rumors, during which the guerrilla commander was believed to be dead, the current High Commissioner for Peace in President Petro’s government officially announced that Márquez is still alive and that they have met in Colombia on three occasions.
Rueda confirmed the recent speculations that suggested the guerrilla commander had not died in Caracas, as reported a few months ago. The high-ranking official clarified that Márquez is alive “and in his right mind” in Colombian territory, where private meetings have taken place to explore the possibility of a dialogue between the state and the illegal group led by the insurgent, the Segunda Marquetalia.
In response to these meetings becoming public knowledge, former President Duque demanded the immediate surrender of the fugitive, noting that “he has an arrest warrant for extradition purposes.”
Outstanding legal issues
“The Peace Commissioner says that alias Ivan Marquez is in Colombia and in his right mind. We remind him that this bandit has an arrest warrant for extradition to the United States on drug trafficking charges,” former President Duque wrote on his social media.
Duque added that if Rueda does not disclose Marquez’s whereabouts so that the law can be applied, he would be obstructing justice.
Exploratory conversations with witnesses
On the other hand, Danilo Rueda clarified that “we have had three conversations, and these exchanges have been in person and with witnesses. I’ve always done it this way to avoid accusations of granting impunity. The guidelines are clear, and everything is within the constitution,” stated the High Commissioner in remarks to El Tiempo newspaper.
“With the Segunda Marquetalia, we have had preliminary communication, and we have a proposal for a dialogue pre-agenda. They have made requests to meet and talk again. We hope to establish the necessary guarantees for a direct conversation with several of their leaders,” the High Commissioner for Peace emphasized to the Bogotá-based newspaper.
It’s worth noting that at present, the government is engaged in peace talks with two illegal armed groups, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Central High Command of the FARC (EMC), the largest dissident group from the 2016 Havana Accords, led by alias Iván Mordisco.
Since taking office in August of last year, President Gustavo Petro has launched his “Paz Total” (Total Peace) proposal, calling for all illegal armed groups operating in the country that want to engage in peace talks with the government to adhere to certain conditions for this purpose.
Reactions from the Colombian opposition
Like former President Duque, other members of his party, the conservative Democratic Center, have criticized the fact that private negotiations are taking place with a person who has an active arrest warrant.
One of the first to question the government’s meetings with the historic guerrilla leader was Hernán Cadavid, a representative in the House, who accused President Petro’s government of being “compliant” with illegal armed groups, disregarding their attacks on law enforcement.
“In an interview with El Tiempo, Mr. Danilo Rueda informs the country: 1. Ivan Marquez is alive, relieved, and in Colombia. 2. They are going to benefit him again and treat him as an important politician. This government’s priority is to please bandits, drug traffickers, and criminals,” the conservative politician stated on his X account.
Also criticizing the High Commissioner for Peace, Senator Paloma Valencia, a frequent government critic from the same Democratic Center party, commented in her social media posts, “So the Peace Commissioner knows the whereabouts of the terrorist Ivan Marquez, who signed an agreement with the Colombian state and violated it, forming a new terrorist group that is the leading perpetrator of violence against social leaders in Colombia”.