Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | January 5, 2012

Mayor of FARC stronghold is brother of FARC front commander

The mayor of San Vicente del Caguan in Caqueta department, Domingo Emilio Perez Cuellar, is the brother of the FARC’s Fidel Perez, alias “El Grillo,” a front commander in the area. Similarly, a brother of the former FARC head Alfonso Cano, Roberto Sáenz Vargas, is currently a council member in Bogota.

Throughout the ranks, it’s not uncommon for siblings to belong to opposing groups, which proves the conflict is not entirely ideologically based. I came across handfuls of stories of adolescents, in which one sister may be in the FARC, a brother in the paramilitaries.

However, the connection which the recently elected mayor of San Vicente holds with the FARC makes many uncomfortable. The FARC have a stronghold in Caqueta department and in San Vicente, in particular. San Vicente was the heart of the demilitarized zone and the seat of FARC-government negotiations during the government of Andres Pastrana. Sometimes, San Vicente is referred to as “FARC capital.”

The mayor’s father was a member of the Patriotic Union (UP), a party founded by the FARC and the Colombian Communist Party in 1984. The mayor is part of the leftist Polo Democratico, which is currently the real opposition party.

Mayor Perez Cuellar says he has not seen his brother since 2001. The military, however, contend the FARC transferred his guerrilla brother from Tolima to Caqueta with the intention to support the election.

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