Colombia’s largest rebel group the FARC announced its new top commander is Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias “Timochenko.” The announcement follows the death of its previous leader “Alfonso Cano” on November 4.
A member of the FARC since 1982, Timochenko received military and political training in Cuba and Russia before he was appointed to the FARC’s ruling body, the Secretariat, in the 1990s. He is said to be a trained doctor.
Timochenko was selected to head the Secretariat by a unanimous vote. He was selected over the other closest contender, political leader Luciano Marin, alias “Ivan Marquez,” who is believed to be based in Venezuela.
Timochenko commands the Middle Magdalena Bloc and is reportedly based near the Venezuelan border in the Norte de Santander department.
The announcement of Timochenko’s appointment as leader follows the group’s defiant statement about continuing its armed fight just days after Cano’s death.
In a communique-cum-obituary posted to their website, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) remembered Guillermo Leon Saenz, alias “Alfonso Cano,” as a daring military commander and dedicated revolutionary.
And the FARC dismissed President Juan Manuel Santos’ offer of demobilization and pledged to continue their “heroic resistance,” but said they were “committed to seeking a political solution to achieve democratic peace with dignity and social justice.”
The FARC leader was killed by government forces in a bombing raid in southwest Colombia.
A guerrilla captured in the operation reportedly told the authorities that Cano died because he was over confident, and remained in one place for too long instead of moving around.
Timochenko may not have this problem. He reportedly operates much of the time from neighboring Venezuela.
See InSight Crime’s profile of Timochenko here.