FARC rebel leader killed

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by SHASH2K2, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    BOGOTA: Colombian forces killed top FARC rebel leader Alfonso Cano on Friday in the biggest blow yet to Latin America's longest insurgency and a triumph for President Juan Manuel Santos, the Defense Ministry said.

    While unlikely to bring a swift end to nearly five decades of war in the Andean nation, his death will further damage the rebels' ability to regroup and coordinate the high profile attacks that have brought it worldwide notoriety.

    There were few immediate details of the killing, which occurred during combat, according to a ministry official.

    "It's true he's dead," he told Reuters. Even prior to its decapitation, the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, had been battered by a US-backed military campaign that began in 2002, and the waning insurgency has lost several other key commanders in the past four years.

    "This brings us closer to victory and peace so that we can stop killing each other," said Jorge Cordero, a 19-year-old soldier in the north of Bogota

    The death of Cano, 63, who took over leadership of the rebels after their founder died in 2008, was a major strategic victory for Santos, who came to office last year promising to keep up a hard-line stance against the guerrillas.

    The government had offered up to $3.7 million for information that would lead to his capture.

    The death of the bespectacled and bearded rebel commander, a former student activist and communist youth member, followed the killing late last year of one of his main henchmen, Mono Jojoy, in a bombardment and assault on his camp.

    REBELS WEAKEST IN DECADES

    "It's going to be more and more hard for them to get through the next years," said Alfredo Rangel, an independent security analyst.

    "There's no leader with the intensity that Cano has and it will be hard to get someone to replace him. In the short term there will be a lack of leadership. The end won't be automatic or immediate but we are coming to the end of the FARC."

    Cano went from being a middle-class youth in the capital Bogota to the top FARC leader after taking part in peace talks in neighboring Venezuela and Mexico during the 1990s.

    The strike that killed him underscored how Colombia's military can now attack rebel leaders deep in the mountains and jungles. Once a powerful force controlling large swaths of Colombia, the FARC is at its weakest in decades.

    Violence, bombings and kidnapping from the conflict have eased sharply as Colombian troops use better intelligence, US training and technology to take the fight to the rebels.

    Foreign investment in Colombia has surged since the military crackdown began in 2002, especially in oil and mining. But the FARC and other armed groups have continued to pose a threat in rural areas where the state's presence is weak and cocaine trafficking lets the rebels finance their operations.

    Desertions and military operations have whittled down rebel ranks to about 7,000 fighters, but the FARC has survived for more than 40 years, and still has a cadre of experienced mid-level commanders. Rebels rely increasingly on hit-and-run tactics and ambushes in rural areas.

    The FARC, whose rebels have made incursions into Venezuela and Ecuador at times to elude Colombia's army, are on the US list of terrorist organizations.

    Colombia says FARC rebel leader killed - The Times of India
     
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  3. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Although I am never a supporter of these US backed regimes of Central and South America, I must say good riddance and hope the entire FARC is wiped out and its no-too-senior cadres rehabilitated.
     
    mayfair likes this.
  4. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Some of those FARC guys kill themselves racing stolen SUVs on jungle roads. Or so I have heard.:lol:
     
  5. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

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    Santos holds the line against the FARC - and wins
    Editor's Note: Christopher Sabatini is editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly and senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas. Ryan Berger is policy advisor at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Christopher Sabatini and Ryan Berger.

    By Christopher Sabatini and Ryan Berger – Special to CNN



    What a difference a decade makes. The successful operation on Friday by Colombia’s armed forces that killed Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla kingpin Guillermo León Sáenz - known by his nom de guerre Alfonso Cano - represents another in a series of victories for President Juan Manuel Santos and his counterinsurgency strategy. Santos’s security policy, built on his predecessors’ Andrés Pastrana and Álvaro Uribe, has put the defeat of the FARC in sight - after the 1990s when the region’s longest running civil war appeared to have reached a stalemate.

    While Marxist-inspired guerrilla movements from Guatemala to Argentina put down their arms in the 1980s and 1990s - the result of peace negotiations and democratic transitions - the FARC rebels and the National Liberation Army (ELN) have plagued Colombia for nearly five decades. Both forces claim to represent Colombia’s peasants and at times have managed to control large swaths of territory in Colombia’s rugged rural areas. Though they claim to represent the class struggle, both of the groups long ago became little more than armed criminal syndicates bankrolled by the drug trade in cocaine and other narcotics, illicit commerce in gems, extortion and kidnapping.

    But the assassination of Cano, 63, referred to by Santos as “el número uno,” calls into question the long-term viability of the FARC. Shortly after it had happened, Santos’s press office released a statement vowing that the FARC had reached a "breaking point."

    Cano had assumed operational control of the FARC in March 2008 after one of its founders - Manuel Marulanda, also known as Tirofijo (Sure Shot) - died of natural causes. That same month, Colombian troops killed Raul Reyes, the chief FARC spokesman and member of its seven-person Secretariat. Then in July of that year, the Colombian army launched a successful mission that rescued Íngrid Betancourt, a senator and presidential candidate at the time of her capture in 2002, and 14 other hostages.

    These successive events illustrated the army’s increasing infiltration into FARC operations. And they were the result of Plan Colombia, the U.S.-backed program of financial aid, military training and intelligence cooperation.

    Elected last year, Santos, who had been defense minister under President Uribe, came to the office well-prepared for the challenge of taking down a guerrilla movement that was already reeling. Just a month after being sworn in, President Santos orchestrated the assassination of Mono Jojoy - Cano’s right-hand man.

    Given these impressive gains, it’s hard to remember where Colombia was just twelve years ago. In 1999, a strong and unified FARC forced then-President Andrés Pastrana, to open negotiations - helped in large part by an international consensus that naively believed that the FARC was still a legitimate political force willing to negotiate in good faith. They weren’t. Pastrana went so far as to cede a 42,000 km2 parcel of territory - roughly the size of Switzerland - to the FARC in a gesture to end the conflict. The FARC quickly turned the “demilitarized zone” into a holding pen for hostages and a staging ground for attacks. In the face of FARC intransigence and ongoing criminal activities, Pastrana called off negotiations in 2002. Now, in its weakened, fragmented state, the FARC has lost its capacity to negotiate concessions.

    But for Colombians long terrorized by violence, the FARC remains a dangerous threat. Though now with only roughly 9,000 remaining guerrillas (more than 6,000 fewer than their peak in the late 1990s), the organization is still dangerous. Just last month, FARC’s attacks claimed the lives of 20 Colombian soldiers.

    Toward the end of Santos’s address to the Colombian people yesterday, he called the FARC to demobilize, “because as [my administration has] said so many times and as we have proven, you will end up in jail or in a coffin.” A statement from FARC leadership Saturday rejected Santos’s invitation and instead promised further armed resistance. No doubt the FARC will continue to resist. As the last few months have proven, the FARC still has the capacity to kill; but its capacity to achieve anything of its supposed political agenda has ended. The Financial Times notes that longtime FARC soldiers Iván Márquez, Timochenko and Joaquín Gómez are all potential successors to Cano, but it is unclear if his replacement will endorse renewed negotiations or resort to a dead-end path of violence.

    This division has Santos holding all the cards in any potential negotiations. At a September 2011 event in New York, Santos commented on the subject, likening negotiations with the FARC and ELN to a door and adding: “The key is in my pocket. And until I see a real willingness of [the rebels] to reach an agreement, there will be no negotiations and we will continue to persevere on our military strategy.”
     

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