Saturday, November 5, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Cross-posted to OTB.

Yesterday evening Twitter lit up with reports out of Colombia that the leader of the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the most significant guerrilla group in Colombia’s seemingly endless struggle with insurgents, was killed by the military.

The BBC reports:  Top Farc rebel leader Alfonso Cano killed in Colombia

The leader of Colombia’s left wing Farc rebel group, Alfonso Cano, has been killed in a military raid, President Juan Manuel Santos has confirmed.

He called it the most devastating blow to the group in its decades-long insurgency and urged it to disband.

Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said Cano was killed in an operation in mountains in Colombia’s south-west.

This is a major development and will be a serious blow to the FARC.  However, the degree to whether this will cripple the FARC remains to be seen.  First, the FARC is a cellular organization that does not rely upon a central leadership.  Second, the FARC is driven by drug profits at the moment and some cells are more thoroughly involved in the drug trade than are others.  This activity will continue.  Third, historically speaking the FARC and like groups in Colombia have been able to cause trouble for the Colombian states and its citizens even as small groups.

As the sidebar to this story noted:

Alfonso Cano was only the second commander-in-chief the Farc have had in 47 years and the only one to be killed in combat. So the psychological impact of his death for the Marxist rebel movement is huge. However, it is unlikely to destroy the group, or indeed, even cause a serious interruption in its operations.

It is worth noting that this is yet another example of success by the Colombia state against the FARC.  Some highlights include:

March 2024:   A raid over the border into Ecuador that killed Raul Reyes (a key FARC commander) and garnered a large amount of intel about FARC operations is obtained.

May 2024: FARC founder and leader, Pedro Marin (aka Manuel Marulanda) dies.

July 2024:  The army rescues the FARC’s most high profile hostages:  presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt (who had been kidnapped in 2024) and 3 US government contractors (along with a dozen others).

September 2024:  High level FARC commander, El Mono Jojoy is killed in combat.

And these are only the most major stories.  It has not been a good 3.5 years for the FARC (indeed, it has been its worst 3+ span in its history, which has spanned 5 decades).

More on recent on the FARC during this span of time (in reverse chronological order):

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