While being able to maintain operations against state forces and infrastructure, the FARC’s military command in Colombia has been significantly weakened due to the rebel organization’s participation in peace talks in Cuba.
“Pastor Alape,” second in command to FARC commander-in-chief “Timochenko,” is the latest addition to the list of high-ranking FARC commanders who have left their military command posts in Colombia to dedicate their time to the peace talks underway in Cuba.
Alape is the third member of the secretariat, the highest military command of the FARC, to have arrived in Havana to discuss the rebels’ possible demobilization and reintegration.
PROFILE: Pastor Alape
With his arrival, three of seven of the guerrilla group’s top military commanders are currently in Cuba and not in the Colombian jungles where fighting with the military is ongoing.
How the FARC is drained
To organize their fight against the Colombian state, the guerrillas have divided their rebel army in seven divisions or blocks.
The commanders of one of these blocks, the Central Joint Command structure in central Colombia, is unknown to the public.
Of the six known block command commander, three are in Cuba, together with four subcommanders.
Who is in charge of Cauca?
The command drain of the FARC is particularly visible in southwest Colombia.
The guerrillas’ Western Joint Command that covers the key Nariño and Cauca and Valle del Cauca states is currently left without its original leadership as both commander “Pablo Catatumbo” and his second in command, “Pacho Chino,” are in Cuba.
The block’s political coordinator, “Matias Aldecoa,” and Catatumbo’s alleged right-hand man, “Walter Mendoza,” were also sent to Cuba.
The FARC has said nothing about who has been left in control over the approximately 1,400 fighters in that part of the country.
The Southern Bloc sent 2nd-in-command “Fabian Ramirez.”
Timochenko left alone
FARC leader “Timochenko,” the commander of the Magdalena Medio Bloc, has also accepted a significant weakening of the guerrilla group’s command structure along the Venezuelan border. His second in command is Alape and the commander of the Caribbean Block, “Ivan Marquez,” has been in Cuba since 2012 when the talks began.
PROFILE: Ivan Marquez
Marquez’ position is presumably filled by “Bertulfo,” the block’s second in command.
What’s left of the FARC’s command structure
Magdalena Medio Bloc
Western Joint Command
Ivan Rios Bloc
Central Joint Command
|“Timochenko”||Unknown||“El Medico”||“Joaquin Gomez”|
While the FARC’s military command is evidently weakened, this does not mean the rebels’ military strength has weakened too. According to the Ministry of Defense, rebel groups carried out 36% more attacks in the first eight months of this year compared to the same period the year before.
- Logros de la Política Integral de Seguridad y Defensa para la Prosperidad (Defense Ministry)