The seven lives of Ivan Marquez

By: León Valencia, for @infobae

Translation by: María Victoria Ramírez


Iván Márquez is alive in Venezuela after an attack that almost cost him his life. He recovers and is aware of the approaches of his armed group -the New Marquetalia (Nueva Marquetalia)- with the government of President Gustavo Petro. This was said by the High Commissioner for Peace Danilo Rueda in the interview with Yamid Amat, a well known Colombian jorunalist.


The Márquez case is out of all proportion. He is taken part in the many different negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government since 1984. He has signed two peace agreements and has returned to war after some time in civilian life. He was a brilliant and loquacious parliamentarian of Union Patriótica (the Patriotic Union), the group that emerged from the peace and truce agreements between the FARC and the government of Belisario Betancur.


He escaped death in the serious second half of the eighties of the last century when they razed the Patriotic Union, sacrificing its presidential candidates Jaime Pardo Leal and Bernardo Jaramillo, its parliamentarians and mayors, and more than three thousand militants of the movement, in the most horrific genocide in Colombia's history. He returned to the guerrilla.

Later he came out alive from the strangest episode of a guerrilla prodigal in dark and lurid events. In the times when he was leading the Caribbean Bloc and moving through the Sierra Nevada de Santamarta, he came to speak with Simón Bolívar through a medium who turned out to be an infiltrator of the army in the heart of the FARC. The story of this adventure of magical realism is in the White Darkness (La blanca oscuridad) the key novel by Jorge Enrique Botero.


He also escaped from the entrapment that United States authorities and Colombian Prosecutor Néstor Humberto Martínez set for him with the collaboration of his nephew Marlon Marín. Márquez had opened the doors of the FARC to his nephew and he had gained the trust of the guerrilla commanders, but at the same time he had started working with the DEA.


Prevailed of that trust, he involved Jesús Santrich in some businesses that had the poison of providing evidence that both Santrich and Márquez were in the company of exporting ten tons of Cocaine to the United States. Santrich lent himself to recordings that incriminated him, but Márquez smelled the trap and pushed his nephew out of his house in Bogotá and aborted the operation. This is how Márquez's companions who remained in civilian life refer to the plot.


Márquez was a quiet school teacher in the department of Caquetá in the eighties of the last century and he joined the FARC when this guerrilla burst onto the political scene waving the flags of democratic opening and agrarian reform, seeking a peace agreement at the time that Belisario Betancur decreed a general and unconditional amnesty for all guerrillas in the country who returned to civilian life.


With the fame acquired in the leadership of the Patriotic Union and in the parliamentary exercise, he later jumped to the leadership of the FARC and after the death of Manuel Marulanda, Alfonso Cano and Raúl Reyes, he became the main political leader of that guerrilla and in the head of the delegation that after a thousand vicissitudes signed the peace agreement of the Teatro Colón that led to the demobilization of the largest and oldest insurgency in the country and in the hemisphere.


When Jesús Santrich was imprisoned carrying on his shoulders the accusations concocted by Marlon Marín, the DEA and Prosecutor Martínez, Márquez went to the mountains in the south of the country and did not want to heed the calls of his colleagues, nor the requirements of the Special Justice for La Paz -JEP-. Later, he declared his commitment to the peace agreement broken and, together with a dozen commanders, set out to take up arms again and build a guerrilla force, rounding up the dissidents in the peace process.


In this second return to the guerrillas he has not been very successful. A good part of the dissidents did not acknowledged him as their commander and formed a separate awning. The notable guerrilla leaders who accompanied him have been killed, starting with Santrich, in operations that have all the traces of US bounty hunting actions that move along the border with Venezuela and have been launched on behalf of the heads of the New Marquetalia. And there is the unusual again: Márquez, although mutilated and badly wounded, has survived the attack and his companions have died. They knew he was an obsessive cigar smoker and they sent him an explosive in a box of Cuban cigars.


Let us hope that on this occasion the spirit of Bolívar advised him to end his adventure and return definitively to civilian life, never to return to war.