The mayor of the mountain town of Chaparral, where Colombia’s armed forces have been involved in an intense manhunt for FARC leader “Alfonso Cano,” said Monday the guerrillas have “always” been in her town.
“Chaparral has always had the presence of the FARC,” Ana Maria Pascuas, mayor of Chaparral, told W Radio.
Referring to recent military operations against Alfonso Cano, the supreme leader of FARC forces, Pascuas said that the citizens of Chaparral knew what was happening and who Colombian armed forces were searching for.
“The locals were expected to know what was happening because they saw much movement and army helicopters,” said Pascuas.
The mayor also stated that because of continuing military operations the FARC have increased the level of violence in the Chaparral region and have begun extorting leaders for money and attacking property.
Nevertheless Pascuas says that the prolonged presence of the FARC in Chaparral has granted the citizens of her city a perspective that gives them the bravery to deal with the current military operation and FARC reprisals.
Chaparral is the transportation hub in a region of mountainous terrain, an ideal base for FARC guerrillas. Part of the Colombian Massif, Chaparral is located in a valley in the northern outreach of the Andes, which provides more than 70% of Colombia’s safe drinking water.
Last week Colombian armed forces launched an attack which they claimed nearly resulted in the capture of Alfonso Cano.
The search for the guerrilla will reportedly continue throughout the week.