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Carlos Pizarro Leongomez

Carlos Pizarro Leongomez (6 June 1951 - 26 April 1990) was the fourth commander of the Colombian guerrilla group 19th of April Movement (Movimiento 19 de Abril) (M-19). Pizarro later ran for president of Colombia after the demobilization of M-19 that transformed the group into the political party, M-19 Democratic Alliance (Alianza Democratica M-19) (AD/M-19). Pizarro was assassinated on 26 April 1990.

Early years

He was the son of navy admiral Juan Antonio Pizarro. He studied in several high schools and a boarding school in Bogota where he graduated as Bachelor.

He was admitted later in the faculty of Law of the Pontifical Xavierian University where participated in the only student strike of the institution, and was expelled as a result. Later Pizarro-Leongomez entered the National University of Colombia, where he completed his studies in Law and participated in political left-wing activism. He joined the Communist Youth Party . He was sent to the zones of violence to undertake social work.

The M-19

He enlisted in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ) at the age of 18 years. Because of disagreements with the High Commands of the group, he left FARC and with Jaime Bateman, Alvaro Fayad the Turk, Luis Otero Cifuentes, Vera Grabe and others, he helped found the 19th of April Movement (M-19), at the end of 1973.

The M-19 was an urban, nationalistic, bolivarian and social democratic guerrilla group. On 20 January 1974 the M-19 stole from the Villa of Bolivar in Bogota the sword of the Liberator, which became the symbol of fight under the slogan of Bolivar your sword returns to the fight".

Arrest and amnesty

In 1979 Pizarro was detected in Santander, after a crude attack of the army. He and several companions were taken to a military base where they were tortured.

Soon they transferred to the jail of La Picota of Bogota, where other guerrillas were being held. He remained in jail three years. He and his companions were freed in 1982 at the beginning of the government of Belisario Betancur after being approved by absolute majority in the Congress under an amnesty law.

After the amnesty, Pizarro continued his guerrilla activities insisting that the government establish a dialogue of peace.

The process of peace, the truce, the breaking of these and the Palace of Justice

On 24 August 1984 of sign the Agreements of Corinto, after an attack that suffered during an ambush of the army (next to other made its companion Ivan Marino Ospina) in that salio hurt next to its companion. In spite of the intention to lay down the arms, Pizarro controls new battles against the army after this also attacked his main amnestied heads or in truce and the camping in truce in Yarumales.

At the beginning of 1985 in quality of supreme commander, Pizarro announces defeat the truce and the resumption of operations of the guerrilla. The 6 of November of that same year, Alvaro Fayad orders the taking of the Palace of Justice in Bogota kidnapping to the magistrates of the high courts, the objective of the taking was the juzgamiento of the president to fail to fulfill the agreements of Corinto. The government ignoring the requests of the group orders the army to attack the building, without surviving the guerrillas nor the hostages who requested ceasefire and the respect to the life.

M-19 leadership

"America" Battalion & CNG

Pizarro became commander of M-19 in 1986, following the Palace of Justice siege. Prior to '86 Pizarro was the movement's military commander and often credited with moving the group in a more militant direction. In January 1986, from the Cauca Andes mountains, Pizarro announced the organization of the "America" Battalion which was compromised of fighters from the National Guerrilla Coordinating Group (Coordinadora Nacional Guerrillera) (CNG) and foreign fighters from other Latin American countries.

The "America" Battalion was to operate much like the CNG, but on an international level that would include fighters from all over Latin America. The group however was unable to operate and consolidate due to deportation of suspicious foreigners in the Cauca Department. The groups victories included the seizure of neighboring areas such as Belalcazar in August 1986 and Inza in September 1986.

AD/M-19 formation and Death

After 19 years in operation the group, commanded by Pizarro, began negotiating with the Colombian government, in April 1989, for demobilization conditional on certain grounds. The primary request of the group was a full pardon for all prior activities as well as the right to form a political party. M-19 in return agreed to turn over all weapons and not to return to violent activities, the demobilization date was set for mid December 1989. The accord was signed in the town of Santo Domingo by Jaime Pardo Rueda, adviser to the president, Raul Orejuela Bueno, Minister of Interior and Pizarro, Commander of M-19.

Following the signing of the accord, M-19 announced Pizarro would officially run as the groups presidential nomination in the 1990 elections. He would soon after be assassinated in a plane on April 26, 1990 by a young paramilitary thug named Gerardo Gutierrez Uribe aka "Jerry". During the 1990 presidential campaign, three candidates were assassinated: Luis Carlos Galan, the leading Liberal candidate, Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa for the political party Union Patriotica (UP), and Pizarro. Following the assassination, Antonio Navarro Wolff accepted the nomination of AD/M-19. Wolff would later finish third in the race, with 12.7% of vote, losing out to Cesar Gaviria who later appointed him the position of health minister.

Chief Prosecutor Alfonso Gomez would later charge Carlos Castano, former leader of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), for the deaths of Jaramillo Ossa and Pizarro on May 24, 1999.

See also

19th of April Movement

History of Colombia

Palace of Justice siege

Politics of Colombia

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