Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday congratulated his country’s armed forces and Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera on the death of the FARC’s military commander “Mono Jojoy,” who was killed in an air strike in the central Meta department.
In a press conference in New York City, the president said that the death of the rebels’ top military commander was the biggest blow against the FARC in the history of the guerrilla organization.
According to Santos, the death of Mono Jojoy is more important than that of “Raul Reyes,” a top rebel leader and spokesman killed in a 2008 bombing raid on Ecuadorean territory.
Santos told reporters that the 57-year-old Mono Jojoy was the impersonation of terror and a symbol of violence.
According to the president, the FARC commander was killed on Tuesday morning in an operation involving “more than 30 planes and 27 helicopters.”
“It was an operation that had been planned for a long time,” said Santos, “this is the welcome operation that we had announced to the FARC.”
Among the 20 other guerrillas reported dead are other prominent FARC leaders, Santos added.
The president revealed that the precise location of the strike was 26 kilometers to the south-east of La Julia, La Macarena, Meta department, and that it was planned in Larandia military base in the Caqueta department.
The operation started Monday morning, but ground troops were not able to enter the camp and confirm the death of the rebel leader until Thursday morning, said Santos.
Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera told press in Bogota “it is a glorious day, a day of joy for Colombians.”
Rivera told press in Bogota about the details of the operation, dubbed “Operation Sodom,” that killed the rebel commander.
According to the minister, the camp where Mono Jojoy was hiding was 300 square meters in size and had a concrete bunker to protect the FARC’s military chief. “It had tunnels and escape routes,” Rivera added.
“We have arrived at the very lair of the FARC and have made perhaps the strongest blow against the FARC in the history of Colombia,” the minister added.
Rodrigo said “this is not the time for triumphalism,” but of “serene strength and firmness.”
The defense minister left a message for “Alfonso Cano,” the FARC’s supreme commander and direct superior of Mono Jojoy: “Surrender yourself. We will guarantee your life and a dignified and just treatment. Your criminal attitude makes no sense. Demobilize.”