The former number two of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who was a leading figure in the conclusive peace talks with the government in 2016 said Thursday he is taking up arms once again.
Iván Márquez, real name Luciano Marín Arango, appeared in a video dated 29 August in which he is flanked by around 20 armed militants. He said the group was somewhere near the Inírida river, located in the far southeast of the country in an Amazonian region near the borders of Venezuela and Brazil.
"We were never conquered or defeated ideologically. That is why the fight continues. History will record in its pages that we were forced to retake our weapons."
Other familiar faces in the footage include Seuzis Paucias Hernández, alias 'Jesús Santrich' and Hernán Darío Velasquez, alias 'El Paisa,' both of whom stopped fulfilling their commitments in line with the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the judicial body set up to facilitate the peace agreement, several months ago.
Márquez was the head of FARC's negotiating team in the Havana peace talks and was later appointed senator when the far-left guerrilla group transitioned into politics as part of the accord with the government, although he did not assume his seat.
In mid-April 2018 he went to stay with ex-guerrillas in Miravalle in the southern department of Caquetá, where he was last seen in the company of El Paisa.
In the video, Márquez, who is seen dressed in green military garb, says the decision to return to arms was in response to the government's failure to uphold the Havana peace agreement, which was struck with the erstwhile president, Juan Manuel Santos.
He added that the group would seek alliances with the National Liberation Army (ELN), another leftist armed group.
Reading from a manifesto, Márquez said the new insurgency would take on FARC's symbols but would not target soldiers or police, as it did in the past, but rather against the "corrupt, mafia-like and violent oligarchy," which he said was holding the country back from its potential.
He said the State had failed to stop the killings of numerous ex-FARC members since the singing of the peace agreement in November 2016 and lamented the "naive disarmament of the guerrillas for nothing."
Márquez had been critical in the past about FARC's disarming.
"In two years, more than 500 leaders of the social movement have been killed and 150 guerrillas have already died amid the indifference and indolence of the State," he said.
The Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation had warned that dissident groups of former FARC fighters could be reconvening.
The Colombian armed conflict began in 1964 and led to over 173,000 murders and over 77,000 cases of forced displacement during the civil war, according to the United Nations.
The peace agreement was landed after years of negotiation but in recent months senior FARC officials have raised concerns over continued violence against former guerrillas and their families. EFE-EPA