‘El Paisa’: One of the bloodiest combatants of the FARC dissidents dies | International

Archive image of Hernán Darío Velásquez, alias “El Paisa”, former head of the Teófilo Forero column of the FARC.Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda (EFE)

One of the bloodiest combatants of the FARC dissidents, the guerrillas who did not accept peace in Colombia and continue to hide in the mountains, died this Sunday on the Venezuelan border victim of an ambush. Hernán Darío Velásquez, alias The Paisa, He was wanted for crimes against humanity, such as the car bomb attack perpetrated at the El Nogal club in Bogotá, in which 36 people died. According to the first hypotheses, an armed commando attacked him by surprise with rifle bursts and grenades. The United States offered a $ 10 million reward on his head.

The Colombian intelligence service leaked the information of his death, although it has not been officially confirmed by the authorities. President Iván Duque referred to the event last night: “The information that exists is that this man went out of circulation.” El Paisa was attacked in the State of Apure, on Venezuelan soil, where dissidents and criminal groups fight for territory and control of cocaine trafficking.

El Paisa was one of those thousands of guerrillas who initially joined the peace process signed by President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC in 2016. They were starting a new life after committing heinous crimes. He spent two years coordinating a program for the reintegration of combatants into civilian life, although he should not have been overly convinced of his task. It disappeared overnight. He was seen again in a 2019 video with another guerrilla commander, Iván Márquez, announcing the creation of the Second Marquetalia, a guerrilla split that refused to lay down arms. Márquez is a theorist, a politician attached to the doctrines of Marxism-Leninism. The Paisa put brute force. His disappearance leaves the criminal group very touched.

His murder took place in circumstances similar to that of another of his companions, Jesús Santrich, a blind combatant. The authorities also offered a very high reward for his apprehension. In May, armed men ambushed him and killed him on the border with Venezuela. They cut off the finger of one hand to collect the reward. The Colombian authorities were silent about his death, despite being one of the most wanted criminals in the country, but the dissident group itself confirmed the news through its website and published a tribute video in his memory with celestial music in the background.

That part of the border between Colombia and Venezuela can be considered a war territory. According to local analysts, the Second Marquetalia, to which Paisa and Santrich belonged, is facing another dissident group of the Farc, the one led by Gentil Duarte, the most persecuted criminal in Colombia. From that point, the shipment of cocaine to Central America is controlled, where it is sold to Mexican drug cartels. The National Liberation Army (ELN), a group that has refused to demobilize, is also strong in this area. The Venezuelan Army, according to analysts, is fighting the ELN and Gentil Duarte’s men, but maintains relations with the Second Marquetalia. Colombian special operations soldiers are also suspected of making incursions into Venezuelan territory to carry out secret missions. They just have to cross a small river. The people who live in this area have a mixed identity, Colombian-Venezuelan. They are neither from one place nor another, but from both. In recent months, many of them have had to take refuge elsewhere to escape this low-intensity conflict.

The Paisa he denied civil life, preferred the life of a bandit in the jungle. Perhaps the only one she knew. There he met his death on Sunday, by surprise. “That works for Colombia,” President Duque concluded coldly.

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