FARC-EP calls for renewed armed struggle
In a video released on August 29, 2019, Iván Márquez, former lead peace negotiator for the FARC-EP in the peace talks in Havana, Cuba, announced that a sector of the FARC party (name of the successor party to the FARC-EP that was founded after the signing of the peace agreement in 2016) were returning to the armed struggle under the banner of the revolutionary guerrilla organization the FARC-EP (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia- Ejército del Pueblo). Iván Márquez read the FARC-EP’s new manifesto dressed in military fatigues surrounded by armed companions, including the famous FARC-EP commanders El Paisa and Jesús Santrich. The manifesto was read by Márquez with large, colorful FARC-EP banners in the background, and was filmed in the Inírida forest that is in a remote area of Colombia that borders both Brazil and Venezuela.
Márquez referred to the renewed armed struggle as “the march of the humble, ignored and unappreciated Colombia, towards the sparkling hills of the future.” In the manifesto Márquez made it clear that the return to the armed struggle was sparked by the “treason of the state” and its undermining of the Peace Agreement. The manifesto related the fact that over 500 social leaders and 150 ex-FARC-EP combatants had been assassinated since the signing of the peace agreement. Márquez spoke of a litany of actions and inactions that the Colombian government had committed that undermined the Havana Peace agreement, including the fact that Colombian government had failed in its promise to protect its citizens and to dismantle paramilitary death squads. According to Márquez, the treasonous behavior of the Colombian government forced the revolutionaries to “return to the mountains.”
In the manifesto, the FARC-EP stated that once again they would be the protectors of the environment, LGBTI people, workers and peasants. Márquez made it clear that he would seek to coordinate military activities with the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional), a guerrilla group that entered into peace negotiations with the Colombian government but never reached an agreement, and the so-called FARC-EP dissidents, who are members of the FARC-EP that never demobilized nor disarmed after the signing of the peace agreement.
Márquez looked forward to a government of a “grand coalition of forces for life, social justice and democracy, that will bring about a coalition for a new peace dialogue.” This leader envisioned “peace for the Colombian people, peace for neighboring countries, peace on the military bases that will not aim its cannons against [Colombian] communities.”
The reaction from the Colombian government was swift. Ivan Duque, the ultra-right president of Colombia, ordered his attorney general to seek arrest warrants for Márquez and his companions in the video. The FARC party called Márquez’ call to arms a “delirious mistake” and vowed to keep working towards the fulfillment of the peace agreement.
Other revolutionary organizations, however, praised the FARC-EP’s call to arms. Rafael Uzcategui, the general secretary of the Patria Para Todos party of Venezuela, welcomed the “sovereign and dignified decision to return to arms” in the face of the “criminal” Duque government that has disowned the peace process. Comandante Uriel of the ELN, in a short video clip addressing Jesús Santrich, stated that the call to arms was “better late than never – we swear to achieve victory!”
In the backdrop of the FARC-EP video there appeared several pictures of heroes of the Colombian guerrilla movements, including Simón Trinidad. Simón Trinidad has been languishing in the Florence, Colorado Supermax prison after having been extradited to the United States in 2004, convicted on trumped-up charges, and sentenced to 60 years. Many believe that if the Colombian government really wanted to show their commitment to the peace process, that it should begin efforts to achieve the repatriation of the Colombian hero Simón Trinidad. This action would engender enormous confidence in the flailing peace process.