Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | November 8, 2011

FARC head killed, but FARC still not at its end

The FARC’s number one head was killed by the Armed Forces, with the support of police intelligence, over the weekend. Alias “Alfonso Cano” was found dead after intense cross-fire in the dense jungles of Suárez, Cauca.

Cano was born as Guillermo León Sáenz Vargas on June 22, 1952. He was the fourth of seven children of a middle-class family. He began his studies in anthropology at the Nacional University and joined the Communist Youth Movement (Juco). As a Communist activist, he was detained several times. His last prison stint was one year and a half in La Picota, Bogotá’s harshest prison, after which he joined the FARC in 1983. His brother, Roberto Sáenz, a Bogotá town councillor, has claimed the body.

Cano allegedly plotted some of the FARC’s worst crimes, such as the 2002 kidnapping of 12 congressmen and the 2003 bombing of Bogotá’s El Nogal club.

FARC founder Manuel Marulanda died of a heart attack in 2008. The Armed Forces killed second-in-command Raul Reyes that same year and the chief heir Mono Jojoy in 2010. Iván Márquez and José Benito Cabrera are likely to be the next leaders.

The FARC are at their weakest since they have been in a decade.

But, as Robert Munks of IHS Jane’s think tank told Reuters, “The death of Alfonso Cano does not mean the end of the FARC.”

Ariel Ávila, a conflict analyst with the Bogotá research group Arco Iris, told the New York Times, “this isn’t the end of the guerrillas. They still have some time left.”


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