FARC Leader Dies

News from Colombia | on: Monday, 26 May 2008

The commander of the leftwing FARC guerrilla group in Colombia, Manuel Marulanda, has died of a heart attack aged 78. Marulanda, a peasant farmer who founded the FARC in 1964, was considered the oldest guerrilla leader in the world. According to a FARC communiqué he died in his camp in the mountainous region of La Uribe in Meta department, central Colombia, surrounded by close companions and members of his personal security unit.

To date the only world leader to comment on the death has been Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega who described Marulanda as "our brother" in the fight against injustice and called him an "extraordinary fighter" who struggled for decades to reverse "profound inequalities".

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has not yet commented on the death.

The guerrillas have announced that Commander Alfonso Cano, the head of the FARC's political wing, the 'Bolivarian Movement', has taken over as leader of the rebel group. Cano, a former student leader now aged 58, has been a member of the FARC's ruling Secretariat since the early 1980s. Marulanda's place on the Secretariat has been filled by Commander Pablo Catatumbo, another veteran guerrilla leader who currently commands several FARC fronts in the southwest of Colombia.

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