HomeNewsDeath of Iván Márquez Would Upend Colombia's Post-FARC Landscape
NEWS

Death of Iván Márquez Would Upend Colombia's Post-FARC Landscape

COLOMBIA / 4 JUL 2022 BY CHRIS DALBY AND JULIANA MANJARRÉS EN

While the death of Iván Márquez, arguably the most well-known former FARC commander, has yet to be confirmed, his killing would mark a major turning point in Colombia’s security panorama.

On July 2, Colombia President Iván Duque told reporters that intelligence services were investigating the possible death of Luciano Marín Arango, alias "Iván Márquez," in Venezuela. Colombian media had been reporting claims of his killing when Duque made his statement.

Outlets have reported different details about the circumstances surrounding Márquez's death, including that he was targeted by a rival group of dissident FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) rebels, that he was killed during a firefight along the Colombian border and that Márquez's location was provided by corrupt Venezuelan soldiers. One source told El Tiempo that the information about his death may have been falsely broadcast by Venezuelan authorities to help him hide his whereabouts.

SEE ALSO: Profile of Luciano Marín Arango, alias "Iván Márquez"

The exact location of his killing was also unclear. According to El Tiempo, citing anonymous sources in Venezuela, Márquez may have been killed in eastern Venezuela, near Guyana, and not along the Colombian border as was initially reported.

If confirmed, Márquez’s death would be a crippling blow to the ex-FARC Mafia, a term used to describe a loosely connected network of criminal groups that refused to join the 2016 demobilization of the FARC.

Having joined the guerrilla group in 1985, Márquez quickly climbed up the ranks and earned respect as both a military commander and political operator. He became the international face of the FARC and was the chief negotiator during peace talks with the Colombian government in Cuba, which started in 2012. After four years of negotiations, Márquez was a key figure in the 2016 peace deal, which called for the FARC to put down their weapons and transition into a legal political entity.

He was offered a seat as a senator in Colombia’s congress in 2018, but he turned it down. His rejection came after his comrade and fellow former FARC commander, Seuxis Pausias Hernández Solarte, alias "Jesús Santrich," was arrested on drug trafficking charges.

For Márquez, Santrich's arrest showed that the peace process was a sham, and he accused the government of not complying with essential aspects of the deal. In July 2018, he moved to a camp for demobilized FARC in the southwest department of Caquetá, from which he then disappeared.

In May 2019, he released a message on Twitter lamenting the entire process. And in August 2019, he appeared in a video surrounded by former senior FARC rebels, stating that the government had “betrayed…the peace accords” and that his group would “continue its guerrilla warfare.”

He called this new force the Second Marquetalia (Segunda Marquetalia), which he claimed to be the successors of the FARC guerrillas. During the announcement, Marquez surrounded himself with several former guerilla commanders, including Santrich, Hernán Darío Velásquez, alias “El Paisa,” and Henry Castellanos Garzón, alias Romaña.”

The Second Marquetalia, however, found itself among several criminal groups that had filled the vacuum left by the FARC's demobilization. It carved out a profitable niche along the Colombia-Venezuela border, controlling drug trafficking and other criminal economies in Arauca, Colombia and Apure, Venezuela. But it never seemed to have the financial clout and manpower to consistently take on larger ex-FARC Mafia groups or the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN).

And while Venezuela at first seemed a refuge for the Second Marquetalia to avoid Colombian army raids, this quickly changed. By mid-2022, all four of the Second Marquetalia’s top commanders were reportedly killed there.

Iván Márquez’s death has both symbolic and practical consequences. Márquez was the chief negotiator for the FARC in the successful peace process before turning his back on it. His death would mean that his return to both a political and criminal fight has now ended in failure.

InSight Crime Analysis

The death of Iván Márquez would have several major impacts on the ex-FARC Mafia and other criminal groups in Colombia and Venezuela.

Firstly, the Second Marquetalia's political aspirations would be little more than a sham. Márquez and Santrich were both savvy negotiators, having done so with the government and other guerrillas. With their passing, no major criminal group in Colombia has real political ambitions left, preferring to maximize criminal profits instead.

SEE ALSO: Why Were Six Ex-FARC Mafia Leaders Killed in the Last Year?

Secondly, it is unlikely that Márquez's alleged successor, José Vicente Lesmes, alias "Walter Mendoza," a military commander by experience, will have any chance at reuniting the disparate ex-FARC cells into a fighting force. Mendoza's area of expertise lies along the Colombian Pacific Coast, and it is difficult to imagine him continuing Márquez's legacy.

Márquez's death also leaves the Second Marquetalia without any of the main commanders who were at its formation. El Paisa, Romaña and Santrich have all been killed.

Thirdly, a weakened Second Marquetalia means it could be taken over by another group. In its heartland of Norte de Santander and Apure, the ELN is in a position to do so. The first in command of the ELN’s Central Command (COCE), Gustavo Aníbal Giraldo, alias “Pablito,” may well be interested in incorporating the remnants of the Second Marquetalia, in an effort to further solidify his group’s influence in this lucrative border territory.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 2 MAY 2022

In 2020, the US Department of Justice released a bombshell indictment charging sitting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other senior…

COLOMBIA / 3 OCT 2022

One of the ELN's most infamous leader, alias Pablito, has been crucial in helping the Colombian guerrilla group move its…

COLOMBIA / 21 JUL 2022

Videos showing an ex-FARC Mafia group patrolling Tibú, Colombia, demonstrate the state’s weakening grip on the Catatumbo subregion.

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…