The demise of Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda has been rumored many times before, but this time the Colombian army has announced that the long-time leader of the rebel group FARC is dead and has challenged FARC to disprove the report. Sources close to Marulanda have yet to confirm the news.
The elusive Marulanda, who was about 80 when he died, founded the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) over four decades ago. He was last seen in public in 1982 and has been rumored to be dead at least 17 times.
Over 40 years, he turned a group of 48 armed farmers in southern Colombia into a thousands-strong organization which has fought the government and right-wing paramilitaries in a civil war that has claimed more than 200,000 lives.
The weekly Semana magazine had earlier reported Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos as saying that Marulanda, alias “Tiro Fijo,” meaning “Sureshot,” had died.
In January, a Brazilian newspaper reported a rumor that Marulanda had terminal cancer.