first_img In an interview published on 20 February, Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera said that the FARC’s top-ranking leader, Alfonso Cano, “is going to fall” and called on the members of that guerrilla group to demobilize. “We’re now on Alfonso Cano’s trail, and he’s going to fall, like all the members of the ‘secretariat’ (the FARC’s central command). Therefore, I call on them to demobilize, before they lose this opportunity,” Rivera indicated to the Bogotá daily El Tiempo. He added that regular army troops are searching for the members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) “in their dens, where they (previously) felt very comfortable.” Rivera’s statements became public a day after the military high command confirmed that it had launched a vast operation with hundreds of soldiers against Cano, in a mountainous area in the country’s southwest, where three members of the state security forces held by the FARC were freed last week. The operation is underway in a region on the border between the departments of Cauca and Tolima, the area of activity of the FARC’s Front 21 and other guerrilla squadrons that protect Cano, who succeeded the late Manuel Marulanda (‘Tirofijo’) as FARC commander. Marulanda, whose real name was Pedro Antonio Marín, died of natural causes on 26 March 2008, somewhere in the Colombian mountains, shortly before his seventy-eighth birthday and after forty-four years as a guerrilla fighter, according to the FARC high command. “We know where Cano is, and we’re breathing down his neck,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on 17 February. Santos, who was defense minister in Alvaro Uribe’s administration (2002-2010), has struck hard against the FARC, the most recent blow being the death in a September 2010 bombardment of Jorge Briceño, alias ‘Mono Jojoy,’ who was the group’s second-ranking leader and its top military commander. By Dialogo February 22, 2011last_img

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