November 17, 2018
News

Timochenko suspends presidential campaign over health concerns

The FARC political movement has decided to cancel the aspirations of the ex-guerrilla leader known as “Timochenko” due to the delicate state of his health, according to Caracol Radio.

Rodrigo Londoño, leader and presidential candidate of the former guerrilla group known as FARC, has been dealing with heart issues recently and is in recovery stages now, but will not be participating in the election any longer. The demobilized guerrilla leader will hold a meeting before next Friday, the deadline day for candidate registry, to decide who will replace him.

Iván Márquez, Pablo Catatumbo, or Pastor Alape are thought to be the three most likely choices to replace Londoño.

FARC has not made any official announcement as of yet, although Londoño released a video from his hospital bed on Twitter, imploring his supporters to stick together: “This Sunday, March 11th, we implore all Colombians who can vote to vote for the party of the Rose [FARC] so we can change the way politics are run.”

The FARC candidate is undergoing treatment for unstable angina, along with chronic pulmonary emphysema. When the candidate went in for treatment of unstable angina, doctors decided to perform a coronary artery bypass surgery to reduce blockages in his heart. Doctors also found an obstruction of the right internal cerebral artery, which is being evaluated. This is Londoño’s second recent visit to the hospital in Colombia, as his first was for a mild thrombotic stroke he suffered last July.

Londoño, who took his nom-de-guerre from Soviet WWII commander Semyon Timoshenko, joined the Young Communists League after high school. He studied at the Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow before receiving military training in Yugoslavia and Cuba. He took the reigns of FARC after former leader Alfonso Cano was killed by the Colombian Army in 2011. Londoño had “widespread respect among the rank-and-file, particularly the hardliners that form the core of the rural fighters,” according to an article written for the Christian Science Monitor upon his rise to power in 2011.

When Londoño joined FARC in the early 1980s, the group was funded by the Medellín Cartel and were engaged in constant fighting with the AUC, right-wing paramilitaries and their sworn enemies. The Magdalena Medio region, where Londoño was based, was particularly volatile.

Londoño was wanted for $5 million dollars by the U.S. government from 2001-2009, under allegations that he “set the FARC’s cocaine policies directing and controlling (i) the production, manufacture, and distribution of hundreds of tons of cocaine to the United States and the world; (ii) the “taxation” of the drug trade in Colombia to raise funds for the FARC; and, (iii) the murder of hundreds of people who violated or interfered with the FARC’s cocaine policies.”

For now, this polarizing figure is out of the race for president.

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