There’s good news from Colombia. The government announced on Wednesday morning that the FARC’s senior military commander, Mono Jojoy, was killed during an operation that started Monday against a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) stronghold in the Macarena region. The operation involved four branches of the military, 30 planes, and 27 helicopters.
Jojoy, also known as Jorge Briceno but whose name was Víctor Julio Suárez Rojas, had a price on his head of $5 million and had evaded justice for a decade. He had been indicted in the U.S. for the murder of three U.S. citizens, drug trafficking, and terrorist activities. Jojoy was the military mastermind of the organization, in charge of the FARC’s strongest division. He entered the FARC when he was 12 years old and had close links to the drug trafficking organizations funding the terrorists.
Just a day or two earlier, the FARC had refused to give up violence in advance of the peace talks that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos had proposed. Santos, who was minister of national defense from 2006 to 2009, had demanded that the FARC end all hostilities and release all hostages prior to the talks.
During Santos’ tenure as minister of defense, the Colombian government killed FARC secretariat member Raul Reyes in an air raid on a FARC camp inside Ecuadorian borders and rescued many high-profile hostages such as Ingrid Betancourt and Fernando Araújo Perdomo, as well as Americans Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell.
After Santos was inaugurated, the proposal for peace talks was made, growing out of the Colombian government’s peace and reconciliation movement. However, the FARC might have misinterpreted it as a possible sign of weakness and upped the violence. This month, over 40 Colombian police and military have been killed in attacks by the FARC.
Santos, speaking from New York, where he is attending the UN General Assembly meeting, declared:
I have said clearly that for any kind of dialogue it is necessary that they abandon terrorism; in this there is no place for minor doubt, in this there is no place for minor differences in interpretation of what those words mean.
About the operation against Mono Jojoy, he said:
It was an operation that had been planned for a long time. This is the welcome operation that we had announced to the FARC.
This is a very big coup for the Santos administration. The FARC now has no second in command, their seven-member secretariat is down one more man, the eastern block of the FARC (which has an estimated 4,000+ members) is now without a leader, and the terrorists’ morale will be greatly affected as Mono Jojoy was a symbol of the FARC’s violence and terror. According to the Economist, Mono Jojoy was believed to have been in charge of many of the FARC’s cocaine-trafficking operations. Best of all, Jojoy has no clear successor.
Santos himself stated on Wednesday, “He symbolized terror. This is the most important blow ever against the FARC.”