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Friday, December 26, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the Latin American Herald Tribune: Latin American Herald Tribune

The man suspected of being the commander of the 25th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group was killed in fighting with the army, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said.

Englio Gaona Ospina died in a clash with troops Wednesday in the mountains of the southwestern province of Tolima, Santos said.

Ospina was a key player in the FARC, acting as the link between the guerrilla group’s Eastern Bloc and the Secretariat, or central command, Santos said.

The guerrilla was “the link and the one in charge of coordinating communications,” especially with FARC commander Jorge Briceño Suarez, known as “Mono Jojoy,” Santos said.

El Tiempo‘s write-up is here: Muerte de Enelio Gaona, ‘Bertil’, significa el fin del frente 25 de las Farc, dicen autoridades.

This is yet another in a long line of defeats for the FARC over roughly the past year. The question becomes now as to whether these blows are sufficient to start to kill the beast, or whether the beast simple will spring forth with new heads to replace those that have been removed.

On the one hand, it is indisputable that the Colombian state has had its best year ever in terms of fighting the FARC, whether in terms of the hostage rescue of Betancourt and other high profile captives, or the death or capture of a long list of major commanders. On the other, the guerrilla conflict in Colombia is both historically entrenched, as well as funded, in-part, by a nearly limitless source of cash (i.e., the drug trade).

While one would like to say that defeat is nigh, it is difficult to look at Colombian history and do so. Still, the situation does seem to be evolving in a new direction. So, stay tuned.

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