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Once again the possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is being dangled before Colombia. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the peace process are high.


Ivan Marquez

Luciano Marin, alias "Ivan Marquez," is a member of the ruling Secretariat of the FARC guerrilla group. He is considered a radical political and ideological leader, and is heading the rebels' team for peace negotiations with the Colombian government.

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Colombian authorities say that Ivan Marquez spends most of his time in Venezuela where, in 2008, he represented the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in negotiations over an exchange of captured Colombian soldiers for kidnap victims. Marquez replaced alias "Efrain Guzman" as the commander of the Caribbean Bloc after Guzman’s death. Marquez also heads the 59th and the 19th Fronts. He joined the FARC in 1985 and became a member of the Secretariat after Luis Alberto Morantes, alias "Jacobo Arenas," died in 1990.

Marquez draws heavily on his political experience. Like many of the oldest members of the FARC, he was part of the Communist Party Youth Movement (JUCO). As a member of the JUCO, he supported the FARC, taking provisions to the group in the countryside. He later joined the rebels as a political commissioner ("comisario politico") for one of the rebels’ most active units, the 14th Front in the southern Caqueta province. In the early 1980s, as part of a peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC, Marquez became one of the guerrillas’ top emissaries for the rebels’ nascent political party, the Patriotic Union (Union Patriotica - UP). He was later elected as city council member and then as an alternate congressman for Caqueta.

In 1987, as persecution of the UP members intensified, the FARC called Marquez and the other top rebel emissaries in the party back to the mountains. For his efforts with the UP, the rebels named him commander of the Southwest Bloc. In the 1990s, Marquez was transferred to the northwestern part of the country where he took part in a bloody battle for control of the Uraba region along the Panamanian border, and gained respect within the organization as a strong military commander, complementing his political skills. The combination of these two abilities has contributed to his trajectory as an international representative of the organization. His activities and influence spread far and wide: he has become the guerrillas’ top foreign emissary, and intelligence officials in Colombia also say he is heading rebel efforts to infiltrate universities and create student federations to support the FARC’s political and military strategy in Colombian cities.

Thanks no doubt to these political and diplomatic skills, Marquez was chosen to head the FARC delegation for peace talks with the Colombian government in Oslo in 2012. The talks formally began in Oslo, Norway, on October 18, when Marquez declaring in a press conference that Colombia needed "structural changes" in order to ensure peace. Marquez then supported the two-month unilateral ceasefire declared by the FARC between November2012 and January 2013. After peace talks moved to Havana, Marquez promised that the guerrillas would do "everything possible" in order to reach a peace agreement before the end of 2013. Talks stalled midway through the year as the FARC team and the Colombian government struggled with the issue of land reform.

Resources

U.S. Department of State Narcotics Rewards Program: Luciano Marin

R.A. Hudson, "The Sociology and Psychology Of Terrorism: Who Becomes A Terrorist And Why?", Federal Research Division Library of Congress, 1999. (pdf)

Mark A. Sauter and James Jay Carafano, "Homeland Security: A Complete Guide to Understanding, Preventing and Surviving Terrorism," (New York, 2005). 

Steven Dudley, "Walking Ghosts," (New York, 2004). 

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