Colombian leftist FARC leader killed in military operation
Alfonso Cano was widely despised by Colombian government
His real name was Guillermo Leon Saenz, but as the leader of Colombia's
chief leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia,
or FARC, he was simply known as Alfonso Cano, and rattled his South
American government to the core. Cano has died in a military operation
in that country's southwest. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos
called his death "the most overwhelming blow given to the FARC in all of
'The death of Alfonso Cano is the most important historical mark of our military forces and our national police in our fight against the FARC organization,' Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon told reporters.
The military operation that in the state of Cauca last week also killed Cano's communications chief, a female friend and members of his security team, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon told reporters. Cano's chief of security was captured.
Cano had assumed FARC's top spot in March of 2008 after an apparent heart attack killed the former leader, Manuel Marulanda. Cano's family urged peace and asked the media to respect their privacy, calling on Colombian authorities -- specifically on President Santos, to allow them to give Cano a dignified burial.
While every death is a tragedy, news of Cano's death has been met with jubilation by many Colombian government officials. "This is great news for all the Colombian people," Labor Minister Rafael Pardo said. "This will help the peace process and it shows that armed conflict is no longer the way forward in Colombia."
The FARC has been at war with the Colombian government since the 1960s. In spite of lessened activity, the guerrilla group has continued to carry out kidnappings and attack security forces in the South American nation.
The FARC released a statement in which its leaders said they would not end their guerrilla struggle.
"This is not the first time that the oppressed and exploited in Colombia are mourning one of its greatest leaders. Nor is it the first (time) that he will be replaced with the courage and absolute conviction of victory. Peace in Colombia will not be born in any guerrilla demobilization, but the abolition of the causes that give birth the upheaval," they wrote.
White House officials say Cano's death will pose a serious challenge to the FARC going forward. There aren't many people left to head the group and most of those who might no longer live in Colombia, they say.
The FARC, which began as a revolutionary guerrilla group, has evolved into a narco-trafficking organization, the officials said. While it is no longer able to threaten the state, the FARC still has the potential to hurt a lot of people, they added.
Both the United States and European Union consider the FARC a terrorist organization.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Colombia, FARC, Alfonso Cano, leftist guerilla
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