Colombia announces start of peace process with Segunda Marquetalia rebel faction

By Thomson Reuters Feb 9, 2024 | 6:34 AM

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s government and a dissident faction of the former FARC rebel group known as the Second Marquetalia said on Friday they have started a peace process.

In a joint statement, the two sides outlined plans for the creation of border peace zones which could help to stimulate economies there.

“The rights of the population in general and of ethnic peoples in particular are respected and guaranteed” in these zones, they said.

The peace process should be structured, swift, and respectful, they added.

The government of leftist President Gustavo Petro is aiming for “total peace” to put an end to six decades of internal armed conflict that has claimed more than 450,000 lives.

Though most members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) demobilized under a 2016 peace deal, two major factions rejected it. Security forces say they have continued to engage in drug trafficking and illegal mining.

Segunda Marquetalia – named after a town in Colombia – operates mainly in the Colombia-Venezuela border region. It is made up of some 1,670 members, of whom about 1,060 are combatants and 610 are from support networks, according to information obtained by Reuters.

In the joint statement, the rebel group reiterated its 2019 commitment to completely dissociate itself from kidnapping.

The announcement of the new peace process coincides with the extension of a ceasefire between the Colombian government and National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels for another six months.

(Reporting by Natalia Siniawski and Nelson Bocanegra; Editing by Angus MacSwan)