Raid survivor says FARC 'still a force'

Slain commander's bodyguard disputes claims by Colombian government that guerrilla group is almost defeated.



    Claims by the Colombian government that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is almost defeated are false, according to the sole survivor of an attack by the army which killed the leader of the leftist group, better known by its acronym FARC.

    In an exclusive interview to Al Jazeera, Tomas Garcia, the only man to survive the November 4 military assault which killed Alfonso Cano, FARC's top commander, said the government was lying to the people.

    "They should be honest with what is going on," Garcia, a bodyguard of Cano, said. "They don't want to acknowledge that we are still a force. In some areas we have units with 300 and 400 men."

    The death of Cano was viewed by many as a major blow to FARC, with the hopes of pushing the armed group to start peace talks.

    Yet, according to Garcia, Cano had been involved in talks with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos before he was killed.

    "They were even discussing [carrying out] talks in Cuba," Garcia said.

    "They had several meetings to discuss the chances of peace," but the talks never developed as the logistics would have been humiliating for the government, he said.

    If true, these meetings would be an explosive revelation as the Colombian government has said before it would only negotiate with FARC if the group laid down its arms.

    The Colombian government has neither confirmed nor denied to Al Jazeera if these meetings with Cano took place.

    In an announcement on Tuesday, FARC named Rodrigo Londono as its new leader, a man analysts consider to be a hardliner and less open to dialogue than Cano.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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