Colombian Military Kills Key Rebel Leader In Shootout
According to reports, military forces bombed Cano’s jungle hideout in the southwestern Cauca region. Troops then searched the area on foot, shooting the Marxist leader, his girlfriend and a number of other rebels.
But, as The Washington Post pointed out, getting rid of Cano does not necessarily mean the demise of the entire rebel force.
The rebel group, which has its roots in a peasant movement that took up arms in 1964, still has as many as 9,000 fighters. Its reliance on the cocaine trade means that it also has a relatively reliable stream of funding for its war against the state, which FARC leaders have long pledged to topple and replace with a communist regime.
But Friday’s strike was the first time that the security forces had ever killed the supreme commander of the FARC. The group’s founder and guiding light, Manuel Marulanda, died of a heart attack in 2008, opening the way for Cano to take over the organization.
Cano’s death also comes after several years in which the group has sustained punishing blows from an increasingly effective armed forces. An aerial bombardment last year killed the FARC’s legendary field marshal, Victor Julio Suarez, and two other members of the FARC’s ruling circle, the so-called secretariat, were killed in 2008.
WaPo also reported the U.S. has invested up to $700 million a year in aid to the country's military, providing helicopters, training and intelligence equipment.
President Santos advised the group's guerillas to turn themselves in and "demobilize, as we have said many times, because if you do not you will wind up in jail or in a tomb. We will achieve peace."
Colombians celebrated the successful strike; street revelry included chants of "Cano is dead!" Reuters reported Saturday.
While still supported in some hard left-wing circles due to the FARC's roots as a peasant insurgency, most Colombians saw Cano as a thug funded by the cocaine trade. As well as the deaths, high-profile kidnappings have traumatized the nation and tarnished its global reputation time-and-time again.…
"This is brilliant news, it's just one more of those delinquents dead and a step closer to peace," said Horacio Londono, 53, buying cigarettes at a Bogota coffee stand.
Though FARC does still have supporters in Colombia, Cano's removal leaves the door open for negotiations between President Santos and the remaining leaders of the rebel forces.
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