Timochenko’s fierce letter to his former second-in command comes just days after Marquez told fellow FARC members on Twitter that surrendering weapons as part of the peace deal was a mistake.
Londoño reiterated that after decades of guerrilla warfare and two and a half year of peace process, the FARC is now “a party of peace, and we will never be a party of war.”
Media reported that the FARC’s former negotiators had been expelled from the party, but this was not true, said Senator Julian Gallo on Friday, admitting there was a rift between the party and the former guerrillas’ former chief peace negotiators.
Being part of the leadership, Marquez decided to marginalize himself from the party, and his opinions are his, not those of FARC.
Senator Julian Gallo
Marquez and his former brother in arms “El Paisa” went underground last year after the arrest of Jesus Santrich on a vague US extradition request. An unknown number of mid-level commanders have followed their example.
The country’s war crimes tribunal ruled there was no evidence to prove whether or when the FARC’s former ideologue would have conspired to traffic drugs as claimed by the US Department of Justice and ordered his immediate release last week on Wednesday.
When the FARC leader was released two days later, prosecutors immediately arrested “Santrich” again, claiming they had received new evidence from the United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency.
From his hideout, the FARC’s former peace negotiator responded furiously and reiterated an earlier statement that it had been a mistake to have surrender the guerrillas’ weapons.
Friends at the ECTR [reintegration camps]: in the name of the military commanders of the former Center Command of the FARC, the commanders of the fronts and units, shocked by the betrayal by the state to the Havana Peace Accords, we reiterate with self-criticism that it was a serious mistake to have surrendered the weapons to a treasonous State, trusting the good faith of the counterpart. We were naive in not remembering the wise words of our [late] supreme commander Manuel Marulanda when he warned us that arms are the only guarantee agreements will be complied with.
While not directly calling on the guerrillas to arm, Marquez’ message dropped a proverbial bomb on the FARC and has now apparently split the former guerrilla group in two.
Londoño, who was known as “Timochenko” when he was the FARC’s military commander, said that not Marquez, but the FARC’s political party was the authority.
Previous to Marquez’ message, the former guerrilla commander had already called on FARC members to be “guarantors of peace.”
Once the weapons had been laid down, there is no point in sitting down and nostalgically regretting the days of war, but to put ourselves behind a general movement to make all Colombians know the meaning of the scope of the agreements. Our party was born with the purpose of having ties and bridges with social sectors for the construction of a new country. The plans for combat and confrontation were left behind forever.
What the exact consequences are of Santrich’ recapture and Marquez’ regret is entirely uncertain as the events of the past week have plunged the peace process in its biggest crisis yet.
Of the 13,000 FARC members who demobilized, some 9,000 former guerrillas moved into 26 reintegration camps called ECTRs where they disarmed. But because of the government’s almost chronic failures to comply with the peace deal, More than 80% of these men and women have left.
According to the military, at least 1,700 FARC members have either dissented with the peace process or have rearmed. Other organizations monitoring the process have estimated this number to to as high as 3,000.