September 26: In a statement released on video, the 18th Front Román Ruiz of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) declares its support for the recent declaration by historical commanders of the guerrilla organization and summon social, popular and armed organizations to join the fight for a New Colombia.
First dissident front of the FARC joins commanders around Iván Márquez
In Colombia, the first dissident body has joined the call of Iván Márquez, Jesús Santrich, El Paisa, Romaña and other former high-ranking commanders of the FARC-EP with a video declaration. This structure is made up of fighters from the 18th Front Román Ruiz, which operates in Antioquia. In the video, a woman reads out the statement, and other armed people with FARC emblems can be seen.
The statement said: “This is an opportunity to publicly express our acceptance and admiration for the direction aimed at rebuilding and consolidating the new Marquetalia, and thus the FARC-EP. The Front Román Ruíz is trying hard to follow the guidelines of the new leadership of the FARC-EP. We also reaffirm the commitment and seriousness of the agreements with other armed organizations in the regions.”
The woman assures that they are in the Nudo de Paramillo area, from which they send the message. This mountainous region lies northwest of Antioquia and is a historical focal point of coca crops, but also of insurgent self-government. It is located near the Pacific and also the Caribbean. In Antioquia, there is another dissident group of the FARC, parts of the former 36th Front, which is led by Cabuyo.
With the 18th front, there is now the first guerrilla structure which publicly professes its allegiance to the commanders around Iván Márquez. In the call of the commanders on August 28, they stress the need to resume the armed struggle in Colombia and to establish a new FARC-EP. In particular, they cite the government’s failure to comply with the peace agreement and the security situation in Colombia as the main reasons.
The group headed by Iván Márquez and the other commanders is located in eastern Colombia near the border with Venezuela. An important strategic goal will be to reach and, with luck, unite with the dissident groups around Gentil Duarte. But so far the attempts to reach a unified command structure have failed. Gentil Duarte was able to rally several dissident fronts (1, 7, 40, 62) with other commanders, but observers believe that, unlike the group of Iván Márquez, their political brilliance is not very pronounced, while Iván Márquez has few military forces behind him.
Translated by Greg Butterfield