US Puts Up Rewards for Colombia FARC Leaders

The United States on Thursday offered rewards of up to $10 million for the capture of two dissidents from Colombia’s former FARC rebels who announced a return to arms.

The State Department said it would offer $10 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of either Ivan Marquez or Jesus Santrich.

In 2016 the Colombian government reached a peace agreement to end decades of fighting with the leftist guerrillas that left nine million people dead, missing or displaced.

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But Marquez, who was FARC’s number two and chief negotiator, said in August that he was taking up arms and joined fugitive colleague Jesus Santrich after months of the systematic killing of social leaders and demobilized former guerrilla members.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement accused the pair of involvement in drug trafficking and renewed allegations that they are supported by Venezuela’s leftist leader Nicolas Maduro, whom Washington is trying to overthrow.

Timothy Shea, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said that the FARC holdouts had partnered with “Venezuelan elites” and profited off of selling narcotics. But he say nothing about their countless operatives in Colombia allegedly fighting against drug trafficking while the number of drugs in US and European markets increase every year.

“DEA and our partners are committed to dismantling narco-terrorist organizations such as the FARC, and the corrupt political regimes that support them,” Shea said.

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Santrich went underground last year after the United States sought his extradition and Marquez already faced a $5 million US bounty, which was hiked Thursday.

While most FARC rebels disarmed under the deal, Colombian authorities say that around 2,300 dissidents remain active. On Wednesday, the Colombian army said that six of its soldiers died in a clash with breakaway rebels.

“This announcement should be connected with the US operation being set up in Colombia, with the arrival of new US military special forces, and the arrival of military warships and planes to the island of Curacao just in front of Venezuela, with the only goal of overthrowing the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro under the disguise of the war on drugs. US ‘free media’ have propagandized for weeks that these Colombian leaders are hidden in Caracas. We will give the gringos hell if they dare to enter Venezuela,” a Chavista activist said to OT.

Featured image: FARC former senior commander Ivan Marquez (center) and rebel colleague Jesus Santrich (wearing sunglasses) announce a return to arms in an August 2019 YouTube video – AFP/File

(France24) with OT content

OT/JRE/EF