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LATIN AMERICA | 29-08-2019 09:27

Colombia FARC negotiators say they are taking up arms again

A group of former peace negotiators for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) say they are taking up arms again following what they considered the failure of a 2016 peace deal to guarantee their political rights.

A group of former peace negotiators for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) say they are taking up arms again following what they considered the failure of a 2016 peace deal to guarantee their political rights.

 Iván Marquez was the chief negotiator of the deal that sought to end a half century of fighting. In a video published Thursday he appeared alongside a group of some 20 heavily armed guerrillas denouncing what he considered the failure of President Ivan Duque to uphold the accord.

"We are announcing to the world that the second Marquetalia has begun," Iván Marquez, dressed in military fatigues, said in a video posted on YouTube, referring to a rural enclave considered a birthplace of the FARC in the 1960s.

The whereabouts of Marquez, the Marxist FARC's number two leader, had been unknown for more than a year. 

He was the chief rebel negotiator in talks that led to a 2106 accord that ended half a century of armed conflict in Colombia.

Some 7,000 rebels disarmed as part of the deal. But several have suffered attacks since demobilising and meanwhile the United States has sought the extradition on drug charges of one of Marquez's top aides, alias Jésus Santrich, who stood alongside Marquez in the video.

With UN support, the peace accord ended the insurrection by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and turned it into a political party called the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, which uses the same FARC acronym.

While it hasn't ended violence in the country – other left-wing rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and drug-traffickers are still waging their battles – it has helped to reduce it.

Conservative President Iván Duque was elected last year with a promise to modify the accord, which he considers too lenient on ex-fighters guilty of serious crimes.

The FARC political party, meanwhile, has denounced delays in the application of the accord as well as a lack of legal guarantees and security for its members.

It has pointed to what it says are the murders of 140 former guerrillas, and 31 of their family members, since the agreement was signed.

– TIMES/AFP/AP

 

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