Colombian Vice President Francia Marquez
Francia Marquez, seen here in October 2022, is Colombia's first black vice president. Photo by: AFP/Joaquin Sarmiento

Colombia's security situation deteriorated further on Wednesday as the car usually used by Vice President Francia Márquez was shot at in the country's southwestern region, local media reported.

The incident took place near the Cauca region, with authorities saying that the van in question was hit by a bullet that likely came from a rifle. Márquez was not in the car when the attack took place, as she was taking part in an event in the city of Cali

Márquez addressed the issue shortly after, highlighting that no one in the car was injured. She said that "we don't have to lament anything this time" but did express her "huge concern" about the incident. She went on to urge armed groups operating in the area to let the region "live in peace."

Not a month ago, members of Márquez's family narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in the same area, , raising concerns about the viability of an already struggling peace process with a major armed group in the region, InSight Crime detailed in an analysis piece.

On June 16, men on motorcycles opened fire on a vehicle carrying Sigifredo Márquez, the father of Vice President Márquez, and her six-year-old nephew near Jamundí, Valle del Cauca. The pair escaped unharmed.

Authorities have attributed the attack to the Jaime Martínez Front, a subgroup of the Central General Staff (Estado Mayor Central – EMC), a federation of dissident fronts from the now-defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC). No organization has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack at the moment.

The EMC has been implicated in a recent surge of violence in Cauca and Valle del Cauca. Cauca and Valle del Cauca are critical areas for the drug trade, featuring principal coca-growing regions, cocaine production labs, and key departure points for drugs.

The outlet recalled other incidents, saying they are part of a broader pattern of violence by EMC groups in these departments, including assaults on police stations, military helicopters, and the use of motorcycle bombs and explosives, resulting in numerous casualties.

The spike in violence follows the Colombian government's decision to partially suspend a ceasefire with the EMC in Cauca, Valle del Cauca, and Nariño after EMC members killed an Indigenous leader in Cauca. This ceasefire, initiated in October 2023, was a component of President Gustavo Petro's Total Peace plan aimed at negotiating peace with Colombia's primary armed groups and criminal gangs.

In response to the ceasefire suspension, EMC leader Néstor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias "Iván Mordisco," declared that the group would cease dialogue unless the nationwide ceasefire was reinstated. This declaration has led to a split within the EMC, with some factions resuming attacks on the government while others continue negotiations.

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