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Former Farc commander tells followers to ‘take up arms’

THE former commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) Ivan Marquez called on his followers to take up arms again today, accusing President Ivan Duque of failing to uphold a 2016 accord that sought to end a half century of bloody fighting.

In a video published on YouTube this morning, Mr Marquez appeared alongside some 20 heavily armed guerillas dressed in camouflage fatigues. He condemned the right-wing president for standing idly by as hundreds of leftist activists and over 150 rebels have been killed since demobilising as part of the peace deal.

“When we signed the accord in Havana we did so with the conviction that it was possible to change the lives of the most humble and dispossessed,” Mr Marquez said in the video.

“In two years more than 500 social leaders have been killed and 150 guerilla fighters are dead amid the indifference and indolence of the state.

“But the state hasn’t fulfilled its most important obligation, which is to guarantee the life of its citizens and especially to avoid assassinations for political reasons.

“Betrayal, perfidy, judicial persecution, political insecurity and the murder of social leaders and ex-combatants have forced us to take up arms.”

But the Farc officially condemned the move, saying on its Twitter feed that “more than 90 per cent of former guerillas remain committed to the peace process.” 

Farc senator and member of the country’s peace process Carlos Lozada also condemned the split today. 

“A complete and definitive peace is the aspiration of the Colombian people. Despite the difficulties, we will not faint along that path. 

“Those who oppose the agreement are wrong; as well as those who despair and return to arms.”

Justice for Colombia director Hasan Dodwell told the Morning Star that the move was another serious challenge for the Colombian peace process.

“Nevertheless the Farc political party and the vast majority of Farc members who signed up to the peace agreement still remain fully committed to the agreement and the reincorporation process,” Mr  Dodwell said.  

“The actions of the Colombian government and the president’s party in Congress have resulted in slow or non-existent implementation of many elements of the agreement.

“This has run alongside a catastrophic number of murders of social leaders and over 100 members of the Farc involved in the re-incorporation process being killed.

“It is essential that the Colombian government increases its efforts and commitment to the peace deal.”

“Justice for Colombia will continue its work to support the full implementation of the Colombian peace agreement signed in Havana and it is as important now as ever that international support continues to arrive from all of those commited to seeing peace truly become a reality in Colombia.”

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