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Who’s next to lead the FARC?

The Americas Post - Timochenko is top command material, and has the finger to prove it.

The death last week of Alfonso Cano, who replaced Manuel “Sure Shot” Marulanda as head of the Colombian FARC in 2008, leaves a historic vacuum at the top of Latin America’s most long-lived guerrilla movement.

Cano, 63, was considered the principal ideologue of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia, having dominated their political wing before assuming the top command.  The anthropologist-turned-revolutionary died in a firefight against 800 to 1,000 Colombian army troops, following a fierce aerial bombardment.  He was the third major FARC leader to be killed in the last three years.

With 47 years of armed struggle, in spite of recent setbacks the FARC remain the dominant guerrilla group in Colombia with around 8,000 soldiers.  The question now is who may step into Cano’s boots in order to carry on the revolution.

Cano’s replacement as FARC commander is likely to be one of  two main candidates, both of whom are known by their nom de guerre:  Ivan Marquez and Timoleon Jimenez (aka Timochenko).

Ivan Marquez is actually Luciano Marin, 56, who joined the FARC in the 80’s after a brief stint in Congress.   According to military sources he currently serves as the group’s chief of international relations and lives clandestinely in Venezuela.  He has taken part in various peace talks with the Colombian government, during which he took a more hardline position than Alfonso Cano.

Timochenko’s real name is Rodrigo Londoño, who also joined the FARC in the 80’s.  Local analysts report his current role as intelligence chief for that organization.  He is also presumed to be living clandestinely in Venezuela.

Other top leaders include Mauricio Jaramillo, whose eastern bloc includes over half of FARC’s active soldiers, and Pablo Catatumbo, joint western commander who was considered very close to Cano.    Southern bloque commander Milton Toncel and Felix Antonio Muñoz, recently promoted to the joint command, are the other two high profile leaders considered potential replacements for Cano.