In 1992 the U.S. had placed their hopes for FARC negotiations on its now supreme leader alias “Alfonso Cano,” who is one of the most hunted men in Colombia today, revealed a U.S. diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks to Spanish newspaper El Pais.
The cable sent from Bogota to Washington in July 1992 titled “Snow White and the Four Dwarfs” laid out U.S. embassy officials’ opinions of the FARC’s then supreme leader Manuel Marulanda and his four lieutenants: Alfonso Cano, Raul Reyes, Timoleon Jiminez and Ivan Marquez.
The U.S. government saw Alfonso Cano as being “a consummate diplomat, who never loses control of himself, always chooses his words carefully.”
“Everyone agrees that Cano is the most active catalyst to negotiate an end to the insurgency. Cano understands that the insurgency is defeated politically, although not militarily. He knows that the armed struggle has no future, nor does he have one with the armed struggle,” the State Department document stated.
The cable presumed, “Cano may be suffering from a midlife crisis and perhaps he is afraid he will spend the rest of his life as a guerrilla… he would like to do something else before it is too late. He would like to try his hand at politics but he is caught up in the insurgency . He knows the only way to get out alive is to drag the rest of the FARC out with him. The government would prefer to negotiate with Cano over any other guerrilla member.”
At the time, the U.S. predicted that if Marulanda fell, his four lieutenants would part ways and none would assume supreme leadership.
Ten years later, however, after Marulanda had died of a heart attack, U.S. officials’ view of the FARC leader had changed.
“In the short term, he will need to consolidate his position and it will not be possible to show any sign of weakness… Cano can lead a military offensive to show he is in charge,” stated a June 2008 diplomatic cable.
Alfonso Cano did indeed rise to the position of leader to hold together the legacy that Marulanda had begun, making him currently the man most sought after by the Colombian government.
On February 17 Santos said that the government is “breathing down the neck,” of Alfonso Cano, and that he will “fall as ‘Mono Jojoy’ fell.”
Since then, there have been unconfirmed rumors that the rebel leader has died, but it is largely presumed he is still alive.