By Luis Jaime Acosta
BOGOTA (Reuters) -Ivan Marquez, the well-known leader of a faction of former FARC rebels who returned to arms after a peace deal with Colombia’s government, has died in Venezuela, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
Though most members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) demobilized under the 2016 deal, which ended the FARC’s role in the country’s nearly 60-year conflict, two major groups reject it and, according to security forces, have continued to participate in drug trafficking and illegal mining.
“The information provided by the group is that he died in a hospital in Caracas, where he received medical attention for serious injuries he suffered in an attack in Venezuela at the end of June 2022,” said a source close to the Second Marquetalia.
Marquez was one of the negotiators of the deal but abandoned it just two years later in 2018 after his nephew was arrested and sent to the United States.
Marquez later emerged as the leader of the so-called Segunda Marquetalia, a group of former FARC who took up arms anew.
The group has 1,670 members and most – 1,060 – are combatants, according to security agency reports seen by Reuters.
Leftist President Gustavo Petro has pledged to end Colombia’s conflict through deals with armed groups, but plans to hold talks with the dissidents have stumbled on uncertainty over whether they are eligible for a peace or surrender deal.
Marquez died in Venezuela two people familiar with the matter told Reuters, which also included an intelligence source.
A number of major FARC dissident leaders have been killed in Venezuela, and the Colombian military says dissidents have significant presence in the neighboring country.
Colombian intelligence last year reported that Miguel Botache Santillana, better known as Gentil Duarte – a dissident commander who clashed with the Segunda Marquetalia – was presumed dead following clashes with rivals in Venezuela.
Both Seuxis Hernandez and Hernan Dario Velasquez – better known as Jesus Santrich and El Paisa, respectively – were both reported killed in Venezuela in 2021.
(Reporting by Luis Jaime AcostaWriting by Oliver Griffin and Julia Symmes Cobb)
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