WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos vowed to continue working for a peaceful solution to the conflict that rattles his nation of 42 million following the death of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader Alfonso Cano.
“We will keep military pressure as long as we don’t see a real will for peace sign from the FARC,” Santos said.
Santos added the military operation against Cano “was the right thing to do.”
“We didn’t do it just for the sake of being congratulated,” Santos said on Nov. 8 in Bogotá.
Cano took the helm of the FARC in March 2008, when its reclusive founder and leader Manuel Marulanda Vélez died.
“This is the moment to decide to lay down your arms because, as we’ve said many times, the alternative is prison or a tomb,” Santos said on Nov. 5 in the city of Popayán, hours after the announcement of Cano’s death. “I want to send a message to each and every member of that organization. Demobilize ... or otherwise you will end up in a prison or in a tomb. We will achieve peace.”
Former Colombian President Andrés Pastrana Arango said FARC should engage in peace talks with the government.
“This is a key moment for the FARC,” Pastrana Arango said. “Those in its leadership who still remain alive should think very seriously about starting peace negotiations in order to end this war for the benefit of all Colombians.”
Analysts signified Cano’s death as the beginning of the end for the ruthless terrorist organization.
Alfredo Rangel, a political expert from the Foundation for Security and Democracy in Bogotá, said Cano’s death was “extremely significant.”
“This was the most painful loss for the FARC since the deaths of Raúl Reyes and Marulanda,” he said. “It will be very difficult for the insurgents to replace him. In the short term there will be a lack of leadership. The end won’t be automatic or immediate, but we are coming to the end of the FARC.”
But the FARC has vowed to continue its fight in the wake of Cano’s death.
“We have charted a policy, and that policy will continue,” the FARC said in a statement on Nov. 6.
The FARC acknowledged Cano's death, but promised that he will be replaced by people “with courage and absolute conviction in the final victory.”
Government officials also praised the military operation, saying it will boost the image of Colombia as a safe country that has a respect for the law.
“Foreign investors and Colombians in general have less sources of uncertainty today,” said Juan Carlos Echeverry, Colombia’s finance minister, in reference to Cano’s death. “Economically speaking, this has a positive effect. International markets see this as something very positive.”