The Colombian military knows “more or less” where FARC leader “Timochenko” is located, said President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday, adding that he would “think twice” before ordering the killing of the rebel leader.
In an interview with radio station La FM, Santos said that “we more or less know” where Timochenko is located.
Authorities and analysts have long believed the leader of the FARC is either hiding in Catatumbo, a region in the northeast of the country, or across the border in Venezuela.
According to Santos, “at this point in the process” of seeking a negotiated end to Colombia’s 50-year-long armed conflict between the FARC and the state, the president would not order taking out the rebel leader as easily as he had with former FARC leaders who were located and killed by the Colombian army.
“I had to take this decision with [slain supreme commander] ‘Alfonso Cano’, a tough decision, but I am not telling whether I would or would not take that decision” as the death of the FARC leader could jeopardize the ongoing Havana peace talks.
Alfonso Cano was killed in 2011 after being displaced from his long-time hide-out in the mountains of southwest Colombia.
Santos, who is seeking a second term on May 25 when Colombia elects a new president, stressed that his expressed hesitance to order the FARC leader’s death should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness.
The government and the rebel group began formal peace talks in November 2012. The president, who was forced to give in on his initial year-long deadline, said that if talks aren’t ended successfully before the end of this year, his patience would run out and negotiations would end.
The FARC, as well as the smaller ELN, have been at war with the Colombian state since the rebel groups’ formation in 1964.
- Santos lo pensaría, ante posibilidad de dar de baja a ‘Timochenko’ (LA FM)
- Santos dice que pensaría dos veces antes de darle de baja a ‘Timochenko’ (RCN Radio)
- ‘Más o menos sabemos dónde está ‘Timochenko”: Santos (El Tiempo)