On 9 February, the Colombian government and the Segunda Marquetalia armed group formally announced the launch of dialogues aimed at reaching a permanent settlement to end violent conflict involving the group.
Alongside the Estado Mayor Central (EMC), which is currently in peace talks with the Petro government, the Segunda Marquetalia is one of two principal so-called ‘dissident’ groups of former members of the FARC who are not participating in that peace process. It is led by one of the chief negotiators of the 2016 agreement, Iván Márquez, who left the peace process in 2019 after some former FARC guerrillas were judicially targeted in legal setups orchestrated by the office of the then-Attorney General. The group is currently believed to contain around 1,600 members.
In a joint statement, the two sides announced the need to begin talks as soon as possible in order to reduce violence and implement much-needed social changes in regions blighted by historic conflict and inequality. As with existing peace processes, Cuba, Venezuela and Norway have been proposed as guarantor countries. It is also hoped that the United Nations will play a role.
Another proposal is for the establishment of ‘peace zones’ where humanitarian relief can be provided along with economic stimulation for local communities.
The talks form another key strand of the Petro government’s Total Peace initiative to promote conflict resolution through dialogue. As well as the EMC talks, the government recently entered the sixth round of negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla movement, while talks with localised urban groups have drastically reduced violence in the city of Buenaventura and elsewhere.