Colombian rebel group FARC announced Tuesday Rodrigo Londoño Echeverry, aliases “Timoleon Jimenez” and “Timochenko,” as their new supreme leader, less than two weeks after the Colombian Army killed “Alfonso Cano.”
“We want to inform you that Comrade Timoleon Jimenez, with a unanimous vote by his companions in the secretariat, was designated on Nov. 5 as the new commander of the FARC,” said an official statement from ABP Noticias as the the FARC’s own website has not published the announcement.
Timochenko, 52, has been a member of the seven-member ruling secretariat since the early 1990s, and is reportedly one of the FARC’s hardliners. He is believed to operate in the Norte de Santander province on the border with Venezuela and has at least 117 outstanding warrants. The U.S. Department of State is currently offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction on the government website.
As a member of the FARC Secretariat and an adviser to the Magdalena Medio Block, Timochenko set organizational policies that were responsible for the manufacture and distribution of hundreds of tons of cocaine to the world. He is also responsible for murdering hundreds of people who interfered in the process, according to the same U.S. government website.
The last known public sighting of Timochenko was in Venezuela in mid-2008 when he was videotaped confirming the death of former commander “Manuel Marulanda,” while naming Cano as the new head, according to Colombian security agencies.
However, President Juan Manuel Santos announced last April that he may have returned to Colombia saying, “Hopefully he is in Colombia… Last we heard of Timochenko, he was on the Colombian side [of the border].”
According to the guerrillas, the appointment of Timochenko as the new head boss “ensures the continuity of the Strategic Plan taking the power for the people.”
In response to those who claim that the FARC is coming to an end, the guerrilla group said that speculation such as that “does not even deserve the gesture of our contempt… They are so lost that they still celebrate the death of [Alfonso Cano] the most fervent supporter for a political solution and peace.”
Following the killing of Alfonso Cano on November 4, the FARC had been dealt a heavy blow and were forced to name his successor. Several political analysts debated that it would be a tough decision as the candidates differed ideologically from Cano and each other.
According to political scientist Alejo Vargas, Timochenko’s biggest rival for the leadership would have been “Ivan Marquez,” who had assumed the role of the organization’s “foreign minister.”
Vargas had predicted friction between the two as Marquez was considered to be more political and less radical than the more uncompromising Timochenko, who received military and political training in Cuba and Russia.