announced the “alleged death” of the dissident leader of the FARC

Four days before the presidential elections in Colombia, the defense minister of that country, Diego Molano, announced the “presumed death” of the dissident chief of the dissolved guerrilla of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), alias Kind Duartewho would have fallen during a confrontation with “drug-trafficking” gangs in Venezuela.

“Intelligence information from Colombia reveals the alleged death of alias Gentil Duarte in the state of Zulia in Venezuela by a confrontation between (…) drug trafficking and terrorist groups“, the official informed the press.

Despite the fact that Miguel Botache Santillana, better known by his pseudonym Gentil Duarte, participated in the peace talks between the government and the FARC that took place in Havana and culminated in the signing of the agreement in 2016, he was one of the first guerrilla leaders to return to armed struggle.

Since then, the 59-year-old rebel has led a dissident faction known as the Southeastern Bloc, which, according to independent reports, has a shock force composed of about 1,700 combatants. Its field of action is mainly on the border with Venezuela and the Colombian Amazon.

According to the newspaper El Tiempo, which cites intelligence sources from both countries, Duarte died in early May from an explosion at his jungle camp, located near the municipality of Casigua del Cubo, about eight kilometers from the border. The government was offering a reward of up to $1 million for information on his whereabouts.

Clashes between the Colombian army and guerrillas on the border with Venezuela are common. Photo Juan Barreto/AFP

Iván Duque, president of Colombia, described the presumed death as “great news”. “All symbols of evil must go,” she emphasized in a statement shared with reporters.

The Southeast Bloc disputes drug trafficking routes with another dissident faction of the FARC known as the Second Marquetalia and with the National Liberation Army (ELN), the country’s last recognized guerrilla group.

“This is one more proof, if this fact were to be confirmed, that the Maduro regime protects terrorist groups and drug traffickersIt’s on their soil,” Molano launched. Then, he stressed that Duarte fled to that country harassed by the persecution of the Colombian army.

Caracas repeatedly denied the accusations made by the Duque government about the alleged refuge it provides to Colombian armed groups and has not referred to the alleged death of Botache.

Hernán Darío Velásquez, alias ‘El Paisa’, was the leader of the dissent, in the “Second Marquetalia” Photo Archive

Another important fall in the Colombian guerrillas

In December, El Paisa and Romagna, two of the main leaders of the Second Marquetalia, fell at the hands of gunmen in Venezuela. Jesús Santrich, another rebel leader who departed from the peace agreement, would also have fallen on Venezuelan soil in May 2021, although his death was not officially confirmed.

Without a unified command, the dissidents number some 5,200 militants distributed in different regions of the country, according to data from the NGO Indepaz, and They are financed mainly from drug trafficking and the illegal exploitation of gold and other minerals..

85 percent of the guerrillas are new recruits who were never part of the extinct rebel organization, according to information provided by the same source.

With information from AFP

DB

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