Will the new guerilla leader, Alfonso Cano, free US and other hostages?
After four decades of leading a militia that at its peak had nearly 20,000 fighters, Marulanda died in March of a heart attack, the rebels confirmed Sunday.
The death of Marulanda, who was born Pedro Antonio Marín to a peasant family in about 1930, could not have come at a worse time for the guerrilla force that he forged to challenge what he saw as a corrupt and contemptible ruling class.
In a single month the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) lost three of its seven-member secretariat.
Raúl Reyes, the FARC's No. 2, was killed March 1 in bombing raid on his clandestine camp across the border in Ecuador, a sign of the Colombian military's increased fighting and intelligence capacity against the guerrillas. Just days later, a second member of the secretariat, Iván Ríos, was murdered in his sleep by his own security guard in a sign of growing discontent among the rebel ranks. On March 26, Marulanda, the founding father of the FARC, died after a life of fighting in the mountains and jungles of Colombia.
Rebel commander Timoleón Jimenez confirmed Marulanda's death in a video broadcast on Telesur, the television network based in Caracas, Venezuela. He said that the FARC would continue its "struggle for political power, the struggle for a socially just society and the struggle for socialism ... in spite of this adversity."