A potential setback for the landmark peace agreement Colombia signed with FARC rebels. Key members of the group say they’re taking up arms again.
In a video, he accused Colombian President Ivan Duque of violating the agreement.
CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports from Bogota.
A former FARC commander, who goes by the alias Ivan Marquez, has announced the start of what he called a “new phase of the armed struggle” in Colombia. Surrounded by other armed combatants, Marquez talked about a return to conflict.
“We are announcing to the world that the second Marquetalia, the historical cradle of the armed rebellion, has begun under the protection of the universal right that assists all the peoples of the world to rise in arms against oppression,” Former FARC Commander Ivan Marquez said.
The former leader of the leftist guerilla group claims the Colombian government had “betrayed” the peace agreement he helped negotiate three years ago.
In a video that lasted more than 30 minutes, Marquez says the group will pursue new tactics and will not carry out kidnappings, but it will seek dialogue with local landowners and business people.
In response, President Ivan Duque released a video statement. He referred to the newly-armed group as narco traffickers. He accused Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of supporting them.
“To Colombians, I want to reiterate that we will continue to guarantee legality, security and justice in all of our national territory. The National Armed Forces count on all the operational capabilities to go after this criminal group,” Colombian President Ivan Duque said.
The former chief government negotiator in the peace talks with the FARC also reacted putting the blame on Duque’s government.
“Let’s remember that, over and over, we’ve told the national government that its persistent attacks on the (peace) process and the risks of legal destabilization it entailed, could push many commanders to make the wrong decisions,” Former Chief Government Negotiator Humberto de la Calle said.
The FARC Political Party held a news conference to reject Marquez’s decision to take up arms calling it a ‘delusional mistake.’
“This is not the time for hesitation. War cannot be the destiny of this country. We will continue here, ready to give everything for peace and social justice,” FARC Political Party President Rodrigo Londono said.
The United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia sent out a press release condemning the announcement and made sure to highlight the commitment of the ‘vast majority of men and women in the reintegration process.’
Former President Juan Manuel Santos, who was awarded the Nobel peace prize for the peace agreement, tweeted that 90 percent of the FARC support the peace process.