FARC Leader Is Hiding in Colombia’s Troubled South

By Dialogo
May 17, 2010

The southern Colombian department of El Cauca, where the FARC guerrilla group has increased its attacks - leading to twenty-three deaths and massive displacements among the indigenous population - is a rearguard area for the top-ranking guerrilla chief, Alfonso Cano, a government official affirmed. “Perhaps the one region where there’s still a relevant presence of the FARC is El Cauca. It’s a rearguard area for Cano. It’s the outlet for drug trafficking, finances, and logistics for the Secretariat (the group’s central command),” Defense Minister Gabriel Silva told the Caracol private radio station. According to the minister, the confrontations between the army and the rebels in the department in recent weeks indicate “that El Cauca is a highly strategic region for the guerrilla group.” “And since we’ve struck very hard at them there, the reaction has been terrorism against the civilian population,” he emphasized. The fighting in El Cauca is taking place less than three weeks before the first round of presidential balloting and amid government alerts about the possibility that the guerrilla group may stage an attack that could affect the process. Alfonso Cano, whose real name is Guillermo León Sáenz, is considered the ideologue and leader of the group’s moderate wing. He took command of Latin America’s oldest guerrilla group in May 2008, after the death of founder and historical leader Manuel Marulanda ‘Tirofijo.’