Ex-Colombian rebel leader, thought dead, appears in video

Ex-Colombian rebel leader, thought dead, appears in video
Ex-Colombian rebel leader, thought dead, appears in video

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s first leftist president, has sought to put an end to six decades of conflict between the country’s security forces, guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs. — AFP pic

BOGOTÁ, May 12 — A former senior commander of Colombia’s now-defunct FARC guerrilla group, who was rumoured to be dead, appeared in a video released yesterday expressing his support for government proposals to start talks.

Ivan Marquez, then the second-in-command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), helped negotiate a key 2016 peace deal but took up arms again in 2019.

He leads a FARC faction known as Segunda Marquetalia which, according to military intelligence, has around 1,600 members.

Colombian media speculated in July about his death after an attack in Venezuela in 2022 but the government dismissed the rumors. Police announced in March that he was in Colombia.

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Marquez can be seen wearing a T-shirt and glasses in an excerpt of the 16-minute video published by El Pais newspaper on Saturday.

AFP could not independently verify the recording’s authenticity.

“A Bolivarian constitution for Colombia would be an extraordinary idea,” Marquez, whose real name is Luciano Marin, is heard saying, referring to Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s proposal to create a constituent assembly.

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“The winds of change are blowing, awakening the hope of the multitudes,” he said.

The recording was presented during a peace forum in Colombia’s eastern region of Vichada, near the border with Venezuela, according to El Pais.

Marquez took part in negotiations in Havana that led to the historic 2016 ceasefire deal.

He briefly returned to civilian life and was elected a senator until, in August 2019, he appeared in camouflage gear and carrying a rifle in a video announcing his new rebellion.

Petro, Colombia’s first leftist president, has sought to put an end to six decades of conflict between the country’s security forces, guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs.

In February, Petro’s government and Marquez’s Segunda Marquetalia announced the opening of talks but did not give a date. — AFP

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