Colombian Army Announces Death of FARC Security Chief

By Dialogo
June 07, 2011

The Colombian Army has killed alias ‘El Abuelo’ [‘The Grandfather’], the chief of security for the highest-ranking commander of the FARC guerrilla group, Alfonso Cano, in an operation in the department of Tolima (in western Colombia), President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed.

Alirio Rojas Bocanegra, known as ‘El Abuelo,’ was the highest-ranking leader of the FARC’s Central Bloc, a structure that has Cano’s security as its fundamental mission.

Cano, whose real name is Guillermo León Sáenz, took command of that communist guerilla group following the death of its founder Manuel Marulanda Vélez (Tirofijo) in 2008.

‘El Abuelo’ took over the control and finances of the guerrilla structure, made up of sixteen squads, following the death in combat of alias ‘Jerónimo Galeano’ in March, in the northern part of the country, according to the information provided by the Army.

President Juan Manuel Santos, speaking at a public event in Sincelejo (in northern Colombia), praised the military operation and said that “the central command (of the FARC) is being systematically struck: it puts a leader up, we take a leader down.”

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera affirmed to reporters that “every time, we’re closer to Alfonso Cano; we’re closing all the action and mobilization fronts to him.”

Alias ‘Rubén,’ head of the Manuel Cepeda Vargas Commission, in charge of work among the masses and propaganda, and responsible for the Voices of the Resistance broadcast station, also died in the operation, which took place Friday afternoon in the mountainous area of Rioblanco, at an altitude of more than three thousand meters.

Alias ‘Laura,’ a radio operator, was also killed, while a sixteen-year-old adolescent, apparently a member of the personal escort of ‘El Abuelo,’ was captured, according to the Army’s statement.

Meanwhile, in another operation, in Cúcuta (600 km northeast of Bogotá), the police arrested Luis Castaño Estrada, alias “El Mono Einer” [“Einer the Monkey”], head of communications for the National Liberation Army (ELN, a Maoist guerrilla group), and Nafer Julio Julio, alias “Evert,” a leader of the subversive group’s José Antonio Galán Front.

The FARC is Colombia’s oldest guerrilla group, with forty-seven years of armed struggle, and is believed to have around 8,000 fighters at present, according to government figures. The ELN is believed to have 2,500 members.