Less than three weeks ago, Colombians saw a familiar face splashed across every news platform. The man known by his nom de guerre “Timochenko,” the leader of what used to be Colombia’s largest guerilla group, which fought government forces for more than half a century, was formally launching his campaign for the presidency.
As the head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC by its Spanish acronym, Rodrigo Londono had commanded thousands of men and women in a campaign for a radical Marxist revolution. But Londono also guided the militia to a peace deal in 2016, vowing to turn it into a political party and seek change through democratic means instead of armed insurgency.
The transition from the jungle to the political stump, however, has proven much harsher than the rebels expected. After suffering relentless attacks from protesters and armed assailants, Londono and his party announced last week that they were suspending campaigning ahead of congressional elections next month and a presidential vote in May, until authorities can ensure their safety.