Alfonso Cano took over as supreme leader of Colombia's FARC rebels in 2008 and launched Plan Rebirth, which called for the leftist guerrillas to return to their hit-and-run roots.
The killing of the supreme commander of Colombia's top rebel group may delay rather than precipitate a negotiated end to the country’s nearly half century of civil strife, analysts say.
Guillermo Leon Saenz, better known by his nom de guerre Alfonso Cano, maximum leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was killed Friday after a bombing raid on his remote camp in southwestern Cauca province.
Throughout most of his 33-year career in the FARC, Cano was known as a recalcitrant Marxist, convinced that the rebels could take power by force. Cano largely remained on the sidelines of ultimately failed peace talks between 1999 and 2002 with the government of then-president Andrés Pastrana, while creating and strengthening political movements tied to the FARC.
When he took over as supreme leader of the FARC in 2008 after the death of natural causes of legendary leader and founder Manuel Marulanda – one of a series of serious setbacks for the rebel group that year – Cano launched Plan Rebirth. That plan called for the rebels to return to their guerrilla roots, using hit-and-run tactics to attack government troops and relying more heavily on urban militias.
But while Cano led the new FARC offensive, he made overtures to the government of President Juan Manuel Santos.