In a press release on its website, the FARC said that Pastor Alape, who commands the Magdalena Medio Bloc and whose real name is Felix Antonio Muñoz Lascarro, would join the group’s seven-member high command.
The 51-year-old guerrilla was one of two “substitute” members of the FARC’s seven-person Secretariat, and was chosen to replace Mono Jojoy over the other substitute, a guerrilla known as “Bertulfo.”
The FARC’s press release also confirmed “with deep sorrow” the death of Mono Jojoy, in what they called a “cowardly bombing in the style of the Nazi army’s blitzkrieg.” The guerrilla group’s second-in-command was killed in a massive air strike in a region called La Macarena in the central Colombian Meta department.
In memory of the group’s slain military leader, who was also known as “Jorge Briceño,” the FARC announced that the Eastern Bloc which he commanded will from now on be known as the “Commander Jorge Briceño Bloc.” It will be headed by Mauricio Jaramillo.
“We reiterate our willingness to seek a political solution to the conflict,” the FARC said in their press release. The group repeated its refusal to accede to the government’s demand that the guerrillas renounce violence and release hostages before talks begin; “Starting a dialogue cannot be conditional on unilateral demands.”
Earlier on Monday Colombian media reported that the army was stepping up attempts to catch Pastor Alape.
The commander of the army’s 5th Brigade, General Alfredo Bocanegra, told newspaper El Espectador that the primary objective of the renewed offensive is the capture or death of Pastor Alape.
The U.S. State Department accuses Pastor Alape of overseeing the Magdalena Medio Bloc’s cocaine supply and ordering the murder of civilians.