A FARC deserter who killed one of the demobilized rebel group’s top commanders and triggered criminal investigations against Colombia’s former peace commander was assassinated on Saturday.
“Rojas” was assassinated in Manzanares, a municipality in Caldas, one of the provinces that make up Colombia’s coffee-growing region.
The many enemies of Rojas
Rojas, whose real name was Pedro Pablo Montoya, had enemies both in the FARC and in the circle around former President Alvaro Uribe.
The former rebel became world news in 2008 when he killed his superior top FARC commander “Ivan Rios” and deserted the now-defunct guerrilla group.
Rojas hit the headlines again in 2009 when he revealed that the 2006 demobilization of a non-existent FARC front had been fake, which triggered criminal investigations against former peace commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo.
According to Caldas Police commander Colonel Luis Gomez, two men on foot shot Rojas dead while he was on his farm without the bodyguards that were supposed to protect him.
According to RCN Radio, locals said Rojas was never without his two armed bodyguards.
Possible motive to kill Rojas #1: “Ivan Rios”
Rojas deserted the FARC in 2008 after killing his superior Ivan Rios,” the commander of the Jose Maria Cordoba Bloc and a member of the FARC’s former high military command.
Hoping he would receive the promised reward, the deserting rebel cut off the hand of the commander as evidence.
The murder of Rios was a major blow to the FARC, which was having the worst year in the former guerrilla group’s 55-year history.
Earlier that year, the guerrillas’ number two, “Raul Reyes,” was killed in a bombing raid in Ecuador and FARC founder “Tirofijo” died of a heart attack later that year.
Instead of being given the reward that had been put on Rios’ head, Rojas was sent to prison.
Possible motive to kill Rojas #2: The Cacica La Gaitana fraud
Rojas’ revelation triggered multiple criminal investigations into Restrepo and former FARC commander “Olivo Saldaña,” who had falsely claimed to be the commander of the non-existent FARC front.
Restrepo is believed to have received political refuge in Canada while his court case, according to radio station RCN, is slowly falling apart amid apparent delay tactics.
The radio station reported in May that the arms trafficking charges against Restrepo and Saldaña had expired and were dropped. The prosecutor investigating the case had been transferred and his replacement had not been notified of the case, according to RCN.
Saldaña was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2012 for the murder of a retired army colonel, but reappeared in Congress with Senator Paloma Valencia of President Ivan Duque‘s far-right Democratic Center party a week after the charges were dropped.
The former guerrilla commander was wearing a t-shirt of the FARC victims federation of Sofia Gaviria, whose family has been sentenced seven times to return land they had dispossessed from victims of forced displacement.
Restrepo continues to be a fugitive; he is still facing charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, embezzlement and fraud, newspaper reported in May.
The Caldas police commander neither clarified why the former guerrilla’s two bodyguards weren’t with Rojas nor what the possible motives of his murder could be.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, the former guerrilla’s girlfriend said Rojas had not received any death threats after recovering his liberty late last year.