In late June rumours began surfacing that Iván Márquez, leader of the Second Marquetalia (a guerrilla group of FARC dissidents who rejected the 2016 peace deal), had been killed in Venezuela. However, new information suggests he may still be alive.
Firstly, Iván Márquez was a senior figure in the leftist guerrilla group, the FARC. After the historic 2016 peace deal, between the FARC and Colombian government, he, and a number of other FARC guerrillas, rejected the peace deal and announced the formation of the Second Marquetalia. They announced the formation of this group in a video in 2019. The Second Marquetalia is heavily involved in the cocaine trade, like the old FARC organisation, and operators primarily along the Colombian-Venezuelan border.
In 2021 a number of the Second Marquetalia’s commanders were murdered while operating in Venezuela. ‘Jesús Santrich’, an ex-FARC commander, was killed in May 2021. While the Colombian military stated this was the result of fighting between criminal groups, the Second Marquetalia and other sources believe he was murdered by Colombian mercenaries illegally operating in Venezuela.
Two more senior figures in the Second Marquetalia were killed in Venezuela in December 2021, ‘El Paisa’ and ‘Romano’. Again, Colombia officials stated this was the result of “settling scores between drug traffickers”, however, the Second Marquetalia believed Colombian mercenaries were at work again. Venezuela had seemed a safer location for members of the Second Marquetalia, to avoid operations by Colombian forces, but slowly the Second Marquetalia leaders were being killed off, by who exactly is still unconfirmed.
The rumoured death of Iván Márquez, then, came as a shock to no one. An attack was said to be launched against him on June 30. The current Colombian President, Iván Duque, suggested the commander had been killed in Venezuela, and Colombian intelligence was attempting to verify his death. Much of Colombian and the international press reported he had been murdered.
Some outlets then began stating he was in fact just badly injured and in hospital in Caracas, Venezuela. El Tiempo stated he was in an intensive care unit. This information, put out by El Tiempo, was said to be from a Colombian military source.
The Second Marquetalia then released a video in which they stated Iván Márquez is alive, and only received minor injuries and is in good health. The spokesperson then stated that the perpetrators of the attack were “the [Colombian] army barracks and the Police commandos” with the help of US agencies. They called the attack illegal and stated the Duque administration has “dedicated themselves to exporting mercenaries to kill leader”. The spokesperson then goes after the Colombian media who he states are allies of the Colombian state and “at the service of the rich and the war machine”.
— Cambio (@estoescambio) July 10, 2022