Why Colombia’s Dissident FARC Rebels Are Taking Up Arms Again

Why Colombia’s Dissident FARC Rebels Are Taking Up Arms Again
FARC leader Seuxis Hernandez, more widely known as Jesus Santrich, at a press conference at the FARC party headquarters in Bogota, Colombia, May 30, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

The announcement that a group of senior commanders from the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are taking up arms again is a heavy blow to Colombia’s already fragile peace process. The declaration, made in a video posted on Aug. 29, represents the most significant break to date with the 2016 peace accord that was supposed to end the longest-running conflict in Latin America.

In the video posted on social media, the FARC’s former second-in-command, Luciano Marin—better known by his nom de guerre, Ivan Marquez—declared a “new chapter” in the Marxist guerrillas’ armed struggle. One of the key architects of the peace agreement, Marquez, wearing olive military garb and toting a rifle, accused the Colombian government of “betrayal.”

At his side was Seuxis Pausias Hernandez, known more widely to Colombians as Jesus Santrich. Arrested on U.S. drug charges in 2018, Santrich was never extradited to the United States. He was later released, before being rearrested and then escaping detention in Colombia earlier this year. Marquez was also flanked by Hernan Dario Velasquez, known as El Paisa, who once commanded an elite guerrilla unit of the FARC and was later part of the negotiating team that struck the peace deal in Havana, and Walter Mendoza, a former commander of the FARC forces in Cauca, on Colombia’s Pacific coast.

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