Colombians are outraged by the FARC’s decision to pay homage to one of its main leaders: Julio Suárez Rojas, alias “Jorge Briceño” or “Mono Jojoy”, who in 2010, after the execution of Operation Sodom by the Colombian military forces and the national police, was killed along with 20 other guerrillas. He is considered one of the most radical and violent rebels, and probably the most bloodthirsty of the entire organization.
Members of the Revolutionary Alternative Force of the Common (FARC), the new political party of the former guerrilla group, called for a tribute to the guerrilla commander this Sunday, September 23, in the capital of city of Bogotá. The event will include lunch, football matches, and a political meeting. The meeting is entitled the “First Festival of the Humble People.”
This homage of the FARC, within the confines of legality, is not new. Precisely a year ago the same organization held a meeting in the Colombian capital to commemorate the birth of the commander of the Eastern Bloc and member of the Secretariat of the FARC.
Although at that time the event was strongly criticized, it took place nonetheless. One of the slogans of the event indicated “We will not betray the dreams of Colombia, when people cry out for peace with social justice.”
Did the FARC make a smart decision?
The PanAm Post spoke with political scientist David Zanabria about the FARC’s tribute to Mono Jojoy. In his opinion, it is counterproductive, because it detracts from the legitimacy of the former guerrilla group.
“The FARC now as a political party has been responsible for returning to democracy, but this type of decision represents a mockery for the thousands of victims of Jojoy’s terrorist activities. What the FARC must do is deal with democratic and legal issues, not venerate terrorists who were part of their guerrilla activity.”
He added that this type of tribute makes it difficult for the FARC to connect with Colombians, beyond their historical bases and geographic areas of influence.
“The widespread resistance was evident when Timochenko was launched as a candidate for the presidency. The people could not stand it, and he had to resign. The FARC has a hard time leaving behind their belligerent message and connecting with the public,” he concluded.
The criminal record of Mono Jojoy
Mono Jojoy, who was part of the FARC Secretariat, was described by those who knew him as a man with a violent mentality, prone to drastic decisions. The authorities pointed out that he was in charge of planning and executing terrorist actions against public security installations and governmental bodies.
In 1994 his criminal activity was on full display in the region of the Sierra de la Macarena, in Meta department, where he ordered a terrorist attack in which 24 soldiers died. Also in that year, he planned and directed the assassination of Army General Carlos Julio Gil Colorado in Villavicencio, and the kidnapping of Liberal Senator Rodrigo Turbay Cote, who died in captivity.
He led terrorist actions in 1995 against the anti-narcotics base in San José del Guaviare, southeast of Bogota in Guaviare department. Three years later he ordered the attack on the military base in La Uribe, in the department of Meta, where 28 soldiers were killed and 30 more were wounded.
In 2001, he ordered the kidnapping of the former governor of Meta Alan Jara, who after spending eight years in captivity was released. In that same year (2009) he commanded the kidnapping of the liberal senator Luis Eladio Pérez Bonilla, who was released for the same date.
In February 2002, he ordered the hijacking of an Aires Airlines plane, in which Senator Eduardo Géchem Turbay was traveling, and in the same year he directed the kidnapping of the then presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. For these reasons, President Andrés Pastrana decreed the end of the demilitarized zone in which peace negotiations with the guerrilla group were taking place.
The same year, the Prosecutor’s Office held him responsible for ordering a cylinder bomb to be thrown at a church in Bojayá (Chocó), leaving 119 people dead and 44 injured. Similarly, he is accused of ordering the murders of American missionaries Stephen Evert Wells and Thimothy Van Dick.
At the time, he was also accused by the Prosecutor’s Office of being responsible for the kidnapping of Emmanuel, the child of the politician Clara Rojas, who was born in captivity.
The United States requested his extradition, given that this guerrilla leader handled a large part of the lucrative narcotrafficking business. Interpol issued a red alert on July 30, 2002, demanding his capture.
The FARC’s “kidnapping camps” are mainly attributed to this man, who dedicated his life to crime.
He had at least 62 arrest warrants and 5 convictions. Most of the crimes that were imputed to him were for multiple homicide, personal injuries, terrorism, kidnapping for extortion, conspiracy, and murder for terrorist purposes. He was sentenced to more than 200 years in prison, before his untimely death.