FARC Commander Killed

The FARC now has an opening for supreme commander.

Yesterday evening Twitter lit up with reports out of Colombia that the leader of the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the most significant guerrilla group in Colombia’s seemingly endless struggle with insurgents, was killed by the military.

The BBC reports:  Top Farc rebel leader Alfonso Cano killed in Colombia

The leader of Colombia’s left wing Farc rebel group, Alfonso Cano, has been killed in a military raid, President Juan Manuel Santos has confirmed.

He called it the most devastating blow to the group in its decades-long insurgency and urged it to disband.

Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said Cano was killed in an operation in mountains in Colombia’s south-west.

This is a major development and will be a serious blow to the FARC.  However, the degree to whether this will cripple the FARC remains to be seen.  First, the FARC is a cellular organization that does not rely upon a central leadership.  Second, the FARC is driven by drug profits at the moment and some cells are more thoroughly involved in the drug trade than are others.  This activity will continue.  Third, historically speaking the FARC and like groups in Colombia have been able to cause trouble for the Colombian states and its citizens even as small groups.

As the sidebar to this story noted:

Alfonso Cano was only the second commander-in-chief the Farc have had in 47 years and the only one to be killed in combat. So the psychological impact of his death for the Marxist rebel movement is huge. However, it is unlikely to destroy the group, or indeed, even cause a serious interruption in its operations.

It is worth noting that this is yet another example of success by the Colombia state against the FARC.  Some highlights include:

March 2008:   A raid over the border into Ecuador that killed Raul Reyes (a key FARC commander) and garnered a large amount of intel about FARC operations is obtained.

May 2008: FARC founder and leader, Pedro Marin (aka Manuel Marulanda) dies.

July 2008:  The army rescues the FARC’s most high profile hostages:  presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt (who had been kidnapped in 2002) and 3 US government contractors (along with a dozen others).

September 2010:  High level FARC commander, El Mono Jojoy is killed in combat.

And these are only the most major stories.  It has not been a good 3.5 years for the FARC (indeed, it has been its worst 3+ span in its history, which has spanned 5 decades).

More on recent on the FARC during this span of time (in reverse chronological order):

FILED UNDER: Latin America, World Politics, , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Michael says:

    Good riddence.

  2. James Joyner says:

    There’s also the saga of al Qaeda number 3 to consider.

  3. ponce says:

    Whenever I hear aboiut FARC, I think of this Woody Allen scene:


  4. @James Joyner:

    There’s also the saga of al Qaeda number 3 to consider.

    Absolutely. And, indeed, this has been my general reaction over time to this various deaths.

    I do think it is possible that there is a cumulative effect (as there appears to have been with al Qaeda). Still, the cocaine trafficking factor looms large in terms of the likelihood of some level of viability for the group going forward.

  5. Another guy with a beard.

    I sense a pattern here 😀

  6. Jeremy says:

    You want to end FARC? You need only do one thing.

    End the War on Drugs.


  7. @Jeremy: It is perhaps not quite that simple, but it certainly is part of the puzzle, yes.

  8. G.A.Phillips says:

    End the War on Drugs.

    How do you mean?Kill them all or legalize?

  9. @G.A.Phillips:

    How do you mean?Kill them all or legalize?

    Well, killing them all is impossible, as is getting rid of all the drugs.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Another guy with a beard. I sense a pattern here 😀

    EeeEEPPP!! That’s it, I’m gonna go shave right now!

  11. John425 says:

    Imagine what Columbia could accomplish with a few of our drones.