Bookish Past Might Not Help Rebel Leader

Colombia's new reality will put dogmatic FARC head Cano to test
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2008 2:33 PM CDT
Alfonso Cano (left) took over as leader of Colombia's FARC rebels after the recent death of Manuel Marulanda (right). Both are seen here in a 2000 archive photo.   (AFP/Getty Images)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Though Alfonso Cano, the new commander of Colombia’s FARC rebels, is a bookish intellectual, don’t expect a new push towards government negotiations, sources tell the Washington Post. Cano, who turned to Marx in college after a middle-class upbringing, would be uniquely suited to push peaceful political action—but in its weakened state, the FARC needs its leader to show strength.

"Cano cannot act on any political impulses because that would be a message of weakness to the FARC," a former Colombian negotiator said. Cano is said to have embraced violence after seeing nonviolent politicians killed by the government. "We exist precisely because the government does not give the country the possibility to participate in its own development,” he said in 2000.