One of the world’s oldest guerrilla fighters, the founder of the Colombian rebel group the FARC, has died, according to the government in Bogota. Manuel Marulanda, who was said to be about 78, spent more than 40 years fighting the Colombian state, after founding his left-wing peasant army in the 1960s to challenge the gap between rich and poor.
He was nicknamed ‘Sureshot’, and reports of his death had surfaced regularly throughout the years. Recent rumours that Marulanda was suffering from prostate cancer were never confirmed. Colombia’s Defence Minister said he might have died during an army attack on rebel positions, or from a heart attack.
The FARC has little popular support in Colombia now, and relies on cocaine smuggling to raise money. It has also resorted to kidnapping and is branded a terrorist operation by the United States and the European Union. Among the FARC’s many captives is the French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt. President Alvaro Uribe announced last night that he believes the rebels are ready to give up their struggle and release their hostages.