Skip to main content

Colombian rebels tap new leader

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 4:39 PM EST, Tue November 15, 2011
A man in Medellin reads about the killing of Alfonso Cano earlier this month.
A man in Medellin reads about the killing of Alfonso Cano earlier this month.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A FARC statement says the new leader guarantees continuity
  • NEW: Rodrigo Londono Echeverri was selected by a unanimous vote, it says
  • A Colombian military operation earlier this month killed former FARC head Alfonso Cano
  • The U.S. State Department is offering up to $5 million for information leading to his capture

Bogota, Colombia (CNN) -- Colombia's main leftist rebel group announced Tuesday that it had selected a new leader after its former chief was killed in a military operation earlier this month.

Rodrigo Londono Echeverri, also known as Timoleon Jimenez and Timochenko, is the new head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, according to a statement from the rebels released to local media and obtained by CNN.

Londono was selected by a unanimous vote of the group's leaders November 5, the statement said, "thus guaranteeing the continuity of the Strategic Plan toward taking power for the people."

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, has been at war with the Colombian government since the 1960s. While severely weakened in recent years, the guerrilla group has continued to carry out kidnappings and attack security forces in the South American nation.

A Colombian military operation killed then-FARC leader Alfonso Cano earlier this month. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos described the killing as the nation's "most overwhelming blow" against the rebel organization.

Following Cano's death, the FARC released a statement in which its leaders said they would not end their guerrilla struggle.

CNN affiliate Caracol TV says Londono, who is around 60 years old, joined the FARC in 1982.

A profile of him on the U.S. State Department website alleges the he has run the FARC's cocaine operations and ordered rebels to "shoot down fumigation aircrafts, increase coca production, kidnap United States citizens and kill farmers who sold cocaine paste to non-FARC buyers."

The State Department is offering up to $5 million for information leading to his capture.

Journalist Fernando Ramos contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT