The Colombian government appealed on Sunday to the new head of the rebel guerrilla group FARC, Alfonso Cano and his commanders, to walk into the door of peace or they will face the same strong determination as happened to the recently deceased Manuel Marulanda Velez.
Defence minister Juan Manuel Santos also asked the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to allow forensic experts to examine the body of Pedro Martin Marin, "Sureshot" to confirm the cause of his death. "FARC have established a policy of respecting seniority and the succession order and we know through our intelligence services that the new leader is Alfonso Cano. We call upon him and "Mono Jojoy" (Jorge Briceño) the head of the military branch to take advantage of this opportunity, and accept the generosity of President Alvaro Uribe administration and walk into the door of peace", said Santos. He also called on the junior ranks of FARC to demobilize since they have "no future" as long as they remain in the group. "FARC has finally admitted that "Sureshot" is dead. We had to announce it because following on their traditional policy of hiding facts and the truth, and cheating on the country and their own people, they did not want to release the news", said the Colombian Defence minister. Santos during a press conference revealed the contents of recording where an insurgent tells another of the death of Marulanda caused by a stroke, which happened last March 26 in one of the FARC camps. "The death apparently was caused by heart failure, but it has also been said that at the time, and it's correct, there was heavy bombing in the area on these camps which we knew Marulanda was hiding". Rodrigo Londoño, or Timoleon Jimenez or Timochenko, member of the FARC central committee confirmed the death of their leader last March 26th on the Telesur, Venezuelan sponsored and financed television channel. France, meanwhile, said it was hopeful the death of the founder of FARC would clear the way for the release of hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt, a dual nationality French-Colombian that was kidnapped in 2002. The mother and Paris-based sister of French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt called Sunday on the new leader of FARC to "change history" and free their loved one from captivity. "If this information were confirmed, we would welcome it with great joy, since it could be the beginning of the end, at least we hope, of the suffering of Ingrid Betancourt," French Human Rights Minister Rama Yade said on Radio J Sunday. Betancourt's mother Yolanda Pulecio and her sister Astrid made an appeal to the new FARC leader Alfonso Cano hours after his appointment was made public. "We call on commander Alfonso Cano, a cultivated and progressive man, who in taking over leadership of the FARC has the power to move history by liberating Ingrid and the three other civilian hostages," the joint statement issued in Paris said, apparently referring to three captured Americans. Freeing them would "trigger decisive action from France and the International community to reach an international accord and put Colombia on the road to peace," the statement said. The rebel movement is thought to hold about 700 hostages, including Betancourt and three US citizens. Successive French governments have made obtaining Betancourt's freedom a priority.