Troops Kill 15 Rebels on Anniversary of FARC Leader’s Death

By Dialogo
March 29, 2011

These setbacks for the FARC demonstrate that the guerrillas are going through a difficult moment, the loss of their principal leaders, army pressure, attacks based on intelligence work. Aside from having practically gained control of the guerillas communications, the power of the air strikes has them cornered, and the most important factors are number one: Assistance from the U.S. Army with their instructors, changing the old system of tracking that led them to an ambush. Second: the war material aid and quartermaster. Third: the loss of Tirofijo and his lieutenants, and confiscated stashes of money. Fourth: guerrilla desertions and the dramatic decrease in their areas of influence indicates that iron discipline has problems, their commander Alfonso Cano, is pursued by the troops that are breathing in his ear, all this affects the political and military results of the FARC. Which they find themselves on the defensive. Does not mean that they are defeated, many fronts are over the border with Venezuela that they recovered, receiving provisions and evading the fight. Another very important part is dedicated to the business of drug trafficking, from which its war economy is provided. The problem of a prolonged war is costly for a country, subtracting money to health, education, to maintain the costs of war. The real problem is that Colombia has had 12 civil wars and the last one that took 60 it is impossible to acclimate to peace!
Colombian troops killed 15 FARC guerrillas on 25 and 26 March, the third anniversary of the death of the guerrilla group’s founder, Manuel Marulanda, and two days after the group suffered another strike in which ten rebels died.

President Juan Manuel Santos announced the military operation in which the fifteen members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) died.

“Another heavy blow to the FARC. In (the department of) Cauca, fifteen terrorists fell in a joint operation by our Armed Forces,” Santos wrote on his Twitter account.

At a public event in the city of Pereira (360 km west of Bogotá), the president went into greater depth and indicated that in addition to the fifteen guerrillas killed, another rebel was seriously wounded.

For its part, the Air Force said in a press release that the operation was directed against a camp of the FARC’s Sixth Front detected near the Tacueyó district of the municipality of Toribio, northeast of Bogotá.

“Air Force combat and reconnaissance planes, as well as National Police helicopters, participated” in the operation, the report added, without specifying whether the rebel camp was bombed, as has been the case in other counterinsurgency operations.

A source with the Cauca departmental government told AFP by telephone that the local government “does not have information different from what has been supplied to the press.”

The deaths of the fifteen guerrillas in Cauca come in addition to those of another ten killed in clashes with the military in a mountainous region between the departments of Chocó and Cauca (in western Colombia).

Santos congratulated the Armed Forces for the new strike against the FARC, according to another Twitter posting, in which he recalled that the fifteen guerrillas’ deaths coincide with the third anniversary of the death of the FARC’s founder, Manuel Marulanda, alias Tirofijo.

Marulanda died of heart failure on 26 March 2008, somewhere in the country’s jungles, according to the FARC.

During the event in Pereira, Santos spoke ironically about the cause of the guerrilla leader’s death: “We don’t know whether he died of a heart attack or from fright due to the bombardments we were hitting him with.”

At the time of Marulanda’s death – which the FARC announced only on 25 May 2008 – Santos was serving as defense minister in the administration of right-wing President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), who deployed a strong military offensive against the FARC.

On 21 March, the Army announced the death in combat of alias Jerónimo Galeano, whom it affirmed was the man “closest to and most trusted by” the FARC’s highest-ranking leader, Alfonso Cano.

In that operation, which took place in the locality of Aipe (270 km south of Bogotá) and in which one soldier died, two other guerrillas were also killed, including a woman reputed to be Galeano’s romantic companion.

The FARC has been engaged in armed struggle against the Colombian state for forty-six years and has around eight thousand fighters, according to official estimates.