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FARC Leader Dead, Colombia Says

El Nuevo Herald, Posted: May 25, 2008

BOGOTA The legendary leader and founder in 1964 of the leftist rebel group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) died last March 26 and was officially replaced on May 24 by his chosen successor, reports Colombias Ministry of Defense. El Nuevo Herald reports that Pedro Antonio Marin, alias Manuel Marulanda, died leaving a trail of more than 100,000 homicides committed in nearly 50 years of war, thereby becoming one of the worst and most ruthless murderers of the Western Hemisphere. The leader reportedly died from a heart attack. He was 78, El Nuevo Herald reports. Marulanda's successor is 55-year-old Saenz Guillermo Vargas, alias "Alfonso Cano.

FARC has been engaged in a guerilla conflict with the Colombian government and right-wing paramilitary groups. According to the U.S. State Department, Marulanda approved the FARC's entrance into cocaine trafficking.

Part of the legend surrounding the FARC leader is that he has been reported dead on more than 30 separate occasions. The leader, known as "Tirofijo," or "Sure Shot," has been falsely reported dead so many times that the late writer and journalist Arturo Alape wrote a book entitled "The Deaths of Tirofijo."

This is the third death of FARC leadership in less than three months: In March, the Colombian military killed Luis Edgar Devia, alias "Raul Reyes in Ecuador and a week later a lieutenant nicknamed "Ivan Rios was killed in a camp in central Colombia. These casualties could be a sign of a weakening FARC, which now has less than half of the firepower it once had, reports El Nuevo Herald.

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