Segunda Marquetalia

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The Segunda Marquetalia is a group made up of former FARC guerrillas who refused to demobilize after the group’s peace agreement with the Colombian government in 2016.

It is led by one of the most influential former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia — FARC) leaders, Luciano Marín Arango, alias “Iván Márquez,” who took up arms again in 2019 after abandoning the peace process.

The group operates mainly in mountainous regions along the Colombia-Venezuela border, seemingly with the tacit approval of the Venezuelan government, but it is unknown how many men it has at its disposal.

The Segunda Marquetalia is in a curious position as its leaders are among the most well-known and sought-after criminal leaders in Colombia, but little is known about its size, geography or the criminal economies it is involved in.

History

In August 2019, a number of former FARC commanders, led by Márquez, released a YouTube video announcing their return to arms and the creation of the Segunda Marquetalia, alleging that the Colombian government had betrayed the 2016 peace accords.

Next to him appeared a number of well-known ex-FARC Mafia leaders, including Hernán Darío Velásquez, alias “El Paisa,” Seuxis Pausías Hernández, alias “Jesús Santrich,” and Henry Castellanos Garzón, alias “Romaña,” along with a number of commanders from various fronts and mobile columns.

The group claimed to be continuing the FARC’s political struggles and stated they were the “heirs to the legacy of Manuel Marulanda Vélez,” the former leader of the demobilized guerrilla group.

El Paisa abandoned the FARC training and reincorporation camp he had been based at in Miravalle, Caquetá, around April 2018 and appears to have headed for Venezuela. In August 2018, Márquez disappeared from the same camp after Santrich was arrested on drug trafficking charges, allegedly committed after the FARC demobilized.

Romaña went missing in March 2019 after failing to appear at a mandated court appearance.

As for Santrich, after his 2018 arrest for drug trafficking charges, he faced potential extradition to the United States. This extradition request was denied for a lack of evidence and he was freed in May 2019. He briefly took up a seat in congress that had been reserved for members of the FARC political party, but he fled shortly afterwards to Venezuela and joined up with his old comrades.

But despite this video and the status of its leaders, the Segunda Marquetalia largely still remain a mystery. Its members have barely been seen since August 2019 and they do not appear to have played a major role in the complex criminal scenario in Colombia and Venezuela. However, the group’s ability to reappear and play a significant role in said scenario at any time should not be underestimated.

Criminal Activity

In the August 2019 video, Márquez and his commanders stated that their group would continue “collecting taxes that serve as financing for the rebellion … and that are applied to the illegal economies and multinationals which loot our wealth.”

While it is unclear exactly how the Segunda Marquetalia is currently funded, it’s likely that it draws significant income from drug trafficking and extortion, the criminal economies in which its members have extensive experience.

Leadership

The main leader of the Segunda Marquetalia is Luciano Marín Arango, alias “Iván Márquez,” who was a member of the FARC Secretariat and the guerrilla group’s second-in-command at the time of its demobilization.

A close ally of Márquez is Seuxis Pausías Hernández, alias “Jesús Santrich,” an ideologue who is key to the group’s public relations with other potential allies. Other prominent leaders include Hernán Darío Velásquez, alias “El Paisa,” former commander of the FARC’s Teófilo Forero Mobile Column, and Henry Castellanos Garzón, alias “Romaña,” former leader of the FARC’s 53rd Front and who likely plays a key part in the Segunda Marquetalia’s military strategy.

Allies and Enemies

In the video announcing the creation of the Segunda Marquetalia, Márquez called on the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional — ELN) to “coordinate efforts” with the new group inside Colombia. In doing so, Márquez suggested reforming the defunct Simón Bolívar Guerrilla Coordinating Board (Coordinadora Guerrillera Simón Bolívar), a movement created in the 1980s and 1990s by the FARC, the ELN and the Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación — EPL) to carry out joint operations.

The 18th Front of the ex-FARC Mafia has also recognized the leadership of Márquez. But to date, it is the only front made up of former FARC fighters to have sworn allegiance to Márquez.

In 2018 and 2019, the group’s leaders met on two occasions with members of the ELN in the Venezuelan state of Apure, according to a number of media reports. The discussion reportedly revolved around the coordination of cocaine shipments between Colombia and Venezuela, especially in the Colombian department of Arauca, which the ELN has a strong presence in.

Beyond these ties to the ELN, the Segunda Marquetalia has planned to unify ex-FARC Mafia groups, including those led by Miguel Botache Santillana, alias “Gentil Duarte.” However, any such unification seems distant. Many of the fighters now under Gentil Duarte may not value Márquez’s legacy enough to follow him and may even view him harshly for participating in the peace process at all.

Geography

The Segunda Marquetalia seems to be operating mostly along the border between Colombia and Venezuela, where it allegedly held meetings with other criminal groups in the state of Apure in Venezuela and Colombia’s Arauca state.

With the adhesion of the ex-FARC Mafia’s 18th Front, Márquez’s group has gained a presence in municipalities in the north of Antioquia, such as Ituango, and the southern part of Córdoba department. But for now, this appears to be the only satellite group which the Segunda Marquetalia has in other areas of Colombia.

But the formerly nationwide reach of leaders such as Márquez, Santrich and Velásquez means they may well be able to bring former combatants into their ranks in other parts of Colombia.

Prospects

Márquez appears to be trying to make the Segunda Marquetalia a unifying force for ex-FARC Mafia groups across Colombia, but he also needs to increase his number of fighters and criminal income to stay afloat.

Since their high-profile announcement in August 2019, the leaders of the Segunda Marquetalia have remained largely underground. Little is known about their whereabouts, their structure or how many armed men are among their ranks.

It appears their best chance at reuniting the guerrillas who refused to demobilize would be to ally with Gentil Duarte, another former FARC commander who has been trying to bring disparate splinter groups together. But reports of clashes between the two groups appear to have ruled this out.

In Venezuela, the group may be receiving help from the Venezuelan government after President Nicolás Maduro welcomed Márquez and Santrich to come to the country in 2019. Like the ELN, the Segunda Marquetalia is likely using Venezuelan territory as an operating base safe from reprisals from Colombian armed forces.

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