Alfonso Cano, another revolutionary leader who embraces immortality.
There, in the middle of the uncontainable guerrilla fire against an ignominious regime that oppresses us and wants to sell our fatherland, he accomplished his appointment with death, fulfilling his historical duty, being a prideful example for the revolutionary people of Colombia, Latin America and the entire world.
The Sumapaz plateau, linked gloriously to history because of the heroic peasant resistance to the landlords´ voracity during great part of the twentieth century, would be witness of the upcoming of the young Alfonso Cano in the FARC-EP. In those marvelous landscapes of the eastern mountain range, he would meet the two most important founders, Manuel Marulanda Vélez and Jacobo Arenas, who wouldn´t hesitate to integrate him as a full member of the National Secretariat, the exacting revolutionary direction in charge of the conduction of the different FARC structures all over the country.
His rebellious trajectory
That decision wasn´t taken just because. Alfonso already had a large and fertile trajectory of rebelliousness, flourished in the middle of the world-wide whirlwind of the sixties, times in which the youth took care of wiping out more than just one myth constructed by the free market society.
The students, who are a torrent of energy, which is continuously mobilized and renewed, unmasked the brutal imperialist aggression against the humble people of Vietnam, showed their enthusiast and unconditional support to the Cuban revolution and their admiration for the emblematic figures of Fidel and Che; they joined the solidarity with the peasants, raised in arms in Marquetalia; they applauded the uprising of the Afro-Americans against racial discrimination in the United States and they excitingly vibrated with the African and Asian struggles against colonialism.
Alfonso Cano exemplarily represented this generation, committed in an upright way with the universal cause of the oppressed ones. His active revolutionary militancy was founded on a growing Marxist education, which, united to his tireless work, would have to lead him to occupy the most important responsibilities in the Communist Youth. His spontaneous clandestine contribution to the FARC would drive him away from legal activities. The logistic support to the armed movement, as well as the ideological and political instruction of its combatants would be part of his important duties during several years. Finally, after a tough period in prison, he decided to fully join the guerrilla in the jungle.
A little while after his arrival to Sumapaz he marched through the mountain range, heading towards the town of Colombia, in the Huila department, where a first meeting of a Secretariat delegation and the governmental committee would take place, as a previous step to the dialogue process between the FARC and the Belisario Betancur administration. We could affirm that from the very moment in which comrade Alfonso Cano got off the bus in San Juan del Sumapaz, he started to work for the peace of the country, whatever risks or efforts that might imply. This would always be the statureof his commitment. He was convinced of the political solution.
It was at Casa Verde (Green House), together with Manuel and Jacobo, where he started his role as member of the Secretariatin a more diligent way. From that period, when the Uribe agreements were made, are the foundations of the FARC doctrine about the overcoming of the social and armed conflict in Colombia. According to this idea, this could only be founded on the solution of the structural problems that originated the uprising, contrarily to the ones who from the Establishment and false leftish positions proclaim that the peace formula consists in the renouncement of the revolutionaries´ principles, their submission to the dominant class´ positions and betrayal, complying with the offers and flatteries of the Establishment.
It was Alfonso who would have to lead the spokesmen delegation of the FARC during the conversations between the Coordinadora Guerrillera Simón Bolívar – a coordinating commission with representatives of the different guerrilla movements- and the Cesar Gaviria government in Caracas and Tlaxcala, which ended up in a fiasco when the government chose to break up with the negotiations, to avoid the discussion with the guerrilla and the trade union leaders, about the neoliberal economic policies implemented with the sonorous names of modernization, economic aperture and privatization.
We also saw him in El Caguán during the dialogues with Pastrana, together with comrade Manuel and the rest of the Secretariat members, tracing the lines that would guide this new attempt to find civilized solutions to the conflict we have been living for more than six decades; a process that failed once again when the government in charge, arguing in the same way as Gaviria did, interrupted the process in a unilateral way, abandoning the discussion about the topics set on the agenda.
After accepting the commandership of the FARC, comrade Alfonso Cano, consequent with these guidelines of political conduction, assures in a letter directed to commanders and guerrilla fighters in June 2008: “We will persist on our efforts to reach democratic peace through the civilized ways of dialogue, as we have done since 44 years, because it is our revolutionary conception, because our principles tell us to do so”.
And some weeks before he would die, in a message sent to the National Meeting for Peace, held in the city of Barrancabermeja, he expresses his ideas in this way: “The FARC-EP want to reiterate today, once more, that we believe in the political solution, that we believe in dialogue, that we believe in the main slogan of this event, we consider it right. Dialogue is the route. We convoke all of you to spread those immeasurable desires expressed by the big majorities of this country to find political solutions to the conflict, after the culmination of this event”.
These were his ideas, his notion of peace for our fatherland, a peace based on progress and welfare for the people, founded on a truthful democracy, with work, fair salaries, land for the peasants, health care and education for everybody. Maybe that´s why the militarist and bloody bourgeoisie, as well as their flatterers paid by them, all of them enemies of the Colombian people, assure that he was an unyielding person, contrarily to a political solution.
His contribution to the struggle
Together with Manuel and Jacobo he had to integrate a team whose composition represented the historical soul of the FARC-EP, peasants, workers and students, gathered around the ideological banners of Marxism-Leninism applied to our reality. They had to translate this ideology in accurate guidelines for the People´s Army´s political and military operation, according to conferences and meetings, declarations and manifests that develop the political Party program, the strategic plan and the Bolivarian platform.
We can find his invaluable contribution to the political-military guidelines of the FARC-EP in a lot of documents he had to elaborate when he was member of the National Secretariat. In those documents, you can sense his enormous capacity to synthesize collective points of view, his correct vision on the national reality and his accurate handling of the Marxist method to unravel the essence of the phenomena and to give a precise answer to the complex problems faced by the revolutionary direction in a country like ours. Comprehensive communist; he never hesitated to defend our organizational principles, when the ideological internal struggle required so, against any expression not according to the proletarian ideology.
In April 2000, in front of more than three thousand enthusiastic people and with the presence of the major part of the Central High Command, Alfonso Cano assumed the leadership of the Bolivarian Movement for the New Colombia, with a bright discourse that unmasked, in an incisive way, the violent and criminal character of this regime, sustaining the need to use this new organizational tool as an alternative for the unity of the humble ones, for their struggle for peace with social justice and sovereignty.
In these days, during a meeting in Villa Nueva Colombia, place where the dialogues with the government took place, with the participation of ambassadors and representatives of 29 nations and the Vatican State, he represented the Central High Command of the FARC-EP. He exposed the historical reasons of the conflict, revealed the hypocrisy of the Colombian bourgeoisie and North American imperialism concerning the war against drugs, denounced the severe plundering of our natural resources and demanded international solidarity in the search for the political solution of the conflict. His final proposal about the moratorium of the external debt´s payment as a way to liberate necessary resources for our development would be worthy of an overwhelming applause of all the participants.
With his appointment as a member of the direction of the Coordinardora Guerrillera Simón Bolívar, the Caribbean and Latin American people acknowledged his indestructible commitment with the liberation of the imperialist domination. An acknowledgement, which becomes even more significant in this period, when the dominant ideology proclaims that imperialism was just a mythological construction of the past, and any consequent anti-imperialist person faces indescribable risks.
The revolutionary man
Alfonso possessed a huge capacity of analysis, nothing escaped his sharp and accurate observation, which later on would be changed into precise phrases when he started talking or writing. As an exposer or lecturer of ideological topics or specific issues about the problems of Colombian society, it was a real privilege to listen to him. He was an excellent converser, had kind manners and a subtle Bogotan sense of humor. He transmitted a pleasant friendliness to the person he was talking with, while he tried to discover unknown motivations behind gestures and people with his big, open eyes.
He never abandoned his passion for sports. He was a big fan of “Millonarios”, a club from the capital, in whose lower divisions he once played; he immediately started to discuss with any follower of the “Independiente Santafé” who would dare to challenge him. He always paid a lot of attention to the results of the championships and he vibrated or suffered with the scores of his team. In former times, when the dynamics of the confrontation still allowed it, you could find him every once in a while playing soccer with his comrades or playing ping-pong skillfully.
The table games he most liked were Scrabble and cards; they allowed him to decipher the most hidden details of his rival´s personality. He passionately followed motorcar racing and enjoyed Juan Pablo Montoya´s achievements in the Formula One. He loved animals; he always took a lot of care of the ones he had chosen to be his pets. Among these there were always dogs, because until his death he had a special affection for them.
In his free time there was always time for a conversation, while listening to the Antillean Boleros or classical Salsa songs and having a drink of Remy Martin. And as dancing concerns, he had the special ability of the ones who learned about these arts in the favorite sceneries of the Bogotan bohemia of the sixties and seventies.
But, without any doubt, his real passion was reading. It was normal to find him immersed in this activity for hours and hours, devouring one book after another with tireless dedication, and he still had enough time left to read different kinds of magazines and publications. This allowed him to be up-to-date about all kinds of issues. He had this skill since he was a young boy; maybe it had been strengthened by the rigorous political discussions that heated the air during his student years at the National University. From this moment on, no field of human knowledge escaped his attention, although his favorite areas were philosophy, economy, politics, history, literature, linguistics and different expressions of art.
A theoretic and practical leader
His unquestionable political and moral authority was rooted in the careful intellectual education he worked on during years, as well as important as his employment in different revolutionary activities. During his entire life, Alfonso added to his undeniable theoretic capacity, an incessant material practice that would make him an outstanding, all-round leader of the armed movement, permanently willing to combine thoughts and action in a consequent and courageous way.
His detractors, like the deserters from the legal or armed revolutionary struggle, would never forgive him this immovable feature of his character. His exemplary life, at the service of the cause of the poor ones, no matter its consequences, is a burning image that glows desperately in the conscience of all the intellectuals paid by the big capital, who today still distil their frustration in the media and in the “politically correct” academic world.
When comrade Manuel passed away, his colleagues of the National Secretariat didn´t have any doubt about it: Alfonso Cano would be the new Commander of the FARC-EP. Since the organization´s foundation only Marulanda had occupied this place. The new leader would have to assume command in a period of intense confrontations with the regime, during which he showed time and again his capacities as a political military leader, something which had already become clear when he was the coordinator of the “Adán Izquierdo” and Western commands. He was able to gain quickly the respect and the support of guerrilla commanders and troops, who saw that the plans correctly oriented by him, were materialized in concrete actions. A proof of this is the level reached by the FARC is the Cauca department, where comrade Alfonso passed his last days in charge of the daring guerrilla detachments, who press the official troops every day again. The commanders of the government´s army haven´t been able to explain the reasons of their fiasco, while they try to stop the uncontrollable actions of the insurgency. There, in the middle of the uncontainable guerrilla fire against an ignominious regime that oppresses us and wants to sell our fatherland, he accomplished his appointment with death, fulfilling his historical duty, being a prideful example for the revolutionary people of Colombia, Latin America and the entire world.
Commander Alfonso Cano fell in combat, offering his life in a generous way for the liberation of our fatherland and as a proof of the irreversible commitment that inspires commanders and combatants of the People´s Army. His life and his death show us the road the popular victory and the New Colombia will have to take.
His epitaphic testament
Following the road specified by Manuel and Jacobo before they left us, he had enough time and dedication to complete the traces we have to continue working at this moment of history. That´s what his words, written for all the members of the movement when he assumed the FARC-EP command, show us:
“Comrades: the roads that lead us to the increment of the popular struggle in its most varied forms and to the conquest of power, have never been easy, neither in our country nor in any other part of the world, neither now nor before. Only the deep conviction of victory, of justice, validity and force of our principles and targets and a collective, monolithical effort, will guarantee triumph. To the reactionary people, who are dreaming about the end of the FARC, we notify them that the intensity of the confrontation has fortified us, we have strengthened our ties with the communities, their organizations and the popular struggle, we have elevated our discipline and our respect for the civil population, and we have increased our competency and learning. There have been guerrilla fighters fallen in combat, that´s how the struggle is, but their generous bloodshed is the evidence of our absolute commitment with the people; other comrades have already taken seat in their trenches and many more continue joining our organization, in the same way in which our heroic independence took place, and all the other liberating processes of mankind where the demons of the war were untied…”
“…We are a revolutionary force with enough trajectory, solidity and consistency to get over the decease of our Commander in Chief, because he was the one who gave us the tools and contributed to the collective effort to political and military consolidation. The Secretariat, the Central High Command, the High Commands of the Blocks and the Fronts, commands on all levels, commanders and combatants of the FARC-EP will guarantee victory”. Words, that seem to be written on purpose of his own death, as if he had been writing his own epitaph.
COMRADE ALFONSO CANO! TO DIE FOR YOUR FATHERLAND IS TO LIVE ETERNALLY!
Colombian jungle, January 2012
Secretariat of the Central High Command
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia Army´s People FARC-EP