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Saturday, Jan 22, 2022

Colombia should negotiate with all armed groups -dissident leader Marquez

Colombia should negotiate with all armed groups -dissident leader Marquez

Colombia's government should hold talks with all armed groups to seek "a complete peace" for the Andean country, dissident leader Ivan Marquez, who is wanted on U.S. drug trafficking charges, told local media.
Marquez is a former commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels who helped that group negotiate its 2016 peace deal with the government, before rejecting the accord and taking up arms again as the head of the Segunda Marquetalia dissident group.

"We want a government which bets on a total peace, which restarts conversations with the ELN, for there to be a chapter of dialogue with all the insurgencies and for it to speak also with the organizations that are successors to paramilitaries," Marquez said in an interview with local television channel CM& from an undisclosed location, referring to the National Liberation Army rebels.

Colombia's government scoffed at the comments.

"Marquez and his followers are narco-terrorists...They are dedicated to illicit activities, they are dedicated to drug trafficking," high peace commissioner Juan Camilo Restrepo said in a video. "They are the victimizers who are perpetrating homicides against human rights defenders, against signatories (of the peace deal), against social leaders."

Some 13,000 members of the FARC demobilized under the deal, including about 7,000 combatants.

Dissident groups count some 2,400 fighters in their ranks, according to the government, and are comprised of rebels who never backed the deal, those who have rearmed since it was signed, or fighters who were never FARC guerrillas.

Dissident groups battle crime gangs and each other for access to illegal mining and cocaine production.

Fighting has spread across the border to Venezuela, where Colombia's government says the Venezuelan military is battling for control of drug trafficking, something Caracas has denied.

The United States is offering up to $10 million for information that could lead to Marquez's capture.
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