On Friday, February 9, Colombia embarked on its third peace negotiation under President Gustavo Petro’s administration. This new round of talks aims to engage with the Second Marquetalia, a faction of the now-defunct FARC-EP, led by the well-known guerrilla figure Ivan Marquez. This initiative follows earlier dialogues with the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Central General Staff of the FARC, marking a continued effort to achieve lasting peace in the nation.
The news, announced today, highlights the issuance of a joint statement dated February 1. This statement aims for a peace dialogue designed to ensure the safety and lives of participants. It specifically addresses the concerns surrounding the numerous signatories who faced fatal outcomes after the disbandment of the former FARC-EP in 2016.
In this way, Colombia expands its dialogue tables with illegal armed groups, in compliance with President Gustavo Petro’s Total Peace project.
The former second in command of the FARC-EP
The announcement is relevant because this group is the second most important group to return to the path of arms in 2019, after breaking with the 2016 agreements, as a dissident group of the FARC-EP. Its leader, alias Ivan Marquez, who was presumed dead last year for several months, was a member of the leadership of the former FARC-EP. Marquez was also the head of the peace delegation in Havana representing the former armed group for many months.
Considered at that time the political leader of the former guerrilla, he was appointed by the new party formed by the ex-guerrillas as senator, but he never took office. After a year of disappearance, in 2019 he reappeared in a video in which he announced his return to the armed struggle because, he said, of repeated failures by the Colombian State.
Despite the fact that the same former chief state negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, had warned that the failure of President Ivan Duque’s administration to comply with the peace accords could “lead some commanders to make the wrong decisions”, Marquez’ defiant image, together with alias Jesus Santrich, now deceased, back in uniform in the mountains, was confirmation of that failure.
Today’s announcement was made possible by the quiet negotiations of the current High Commissioner for Peace, Otty Patiño, and, in large part, also by those initiated by his predecessor in the post, Danilo Rueda.
“Political solution and peace building”
As now announced, the Second Marquetalia and the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace agree “on the need to carry out an orderly…..rigorous and respectful peace process, which provides tranquility and certainty to the Colombian society in the genuine commitment to the political solution and the construction of peace”.
The document was signed by the High Commissioner for Peace, Otty Patiño, and the commander of the residual guerrilla group, Ivan Marquez, who affirmed that they will develop previous agreements for the de-escalation of the conflict.
For its part, the illegal armed group agrees that it will not participate in new kidnappings and emphasizes “its commitment, expressed in the founding Manifesto of August 2019, to totally dissociate itself from retentions for economic purposes; to prioritize dialogue with businessmen, ranchers, traders and other wealthy people of the country, to seek in this way their contribution to the progress of rural and urban communities; to discard any form of imposition (sic) on the popular economies and the common people”.
In agreement with the State, this illegal rebel group requested the governments of Cuba, Norway and Venezuela, together with the United Nations, to accompany the new peace process, repeating the successful model of the process carried out with the former FARC between 2012 and 2016.