Carlos Pizarro Leongómez

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Carlos Pizarro Leongómez
Carlos Pizarro Leongomez in 1990
Born (1951-06-06)June 6, 1951
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
Died April 26, 1990(1990-04-26) (aged 38)
Bogotá, Colombia
Occupation Politician, Commander of the M-19, candidate for the presidency of Colombia 1990-1994
Successor Antonio Navarro Wolff
Political party AD/M-19

Carlos Pizarro Leongómez (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 Democrática M-19) (AD/M-19). Pizarro was assassinated on 26 April 1990.[1][2]

Early years[edit]

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 he 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 (Juventud Comunista, JUCO). He was sent to violent areas to undertake social work.

The M-19[edit]

He enlisted in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC)) at the age of 18. Because of disagreements with the group's leaders, he left FARC and with Jaime Bateman, Alvaro Fayad “the Turk”, Luis Otero Cifuentes, Vera Grabe and others, founded the April 19 Movement (M-19), at the end of 1973.

The M-19 was an urban, nationalistic and social democratic guerrilla group. On 20 January 1974 the M-19 stole Simón Bolívar's sword from the Quinta de Bolivar. The sword became the symbol of the guerrillas' fight under the slogan of “Bolivar your sword returns to the fight".

Arrest and amnesty[edit]

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[edit]

On 24 August 1984 the sign of the Agreements of Corinto, after an attack that suffered during an ambush of the army (next to other made its companion Iván Marino Ospina) he got hurt next to its companion. In spite of the intention to lay down the arms, Pizarro ordered new battles against the army after they 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 judgment 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[edit]

"America" Battalion and CNG[edit]

Pizarro became commander of M-19 in 1986, following the Palace of Justice siege. Prior to 1986, Pizarro was the movement's military commander and often credited with moving the group in a more militant direction.[1] In January 1986, from the Cauca Andes mountains, Pizarro announced the organization of the "America" Battalion which was composed of fighters from the National Guerrilla Coordinating Group (Coordinadora Nacional Guerrillera) (CNG) and foreign fighters from other Latin American countries.[3]

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 group's victories included the seizure of neighboring areas such as Belalcazar in August 1986 and Inza in September 1986.[3]

AD/M-19 formation and death[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[1][6][7]

Following the signing of the accord, M-19 announced Pizarro would officially run as the group's presidential nominee in the 1990 elections. He was assassinated shortly thereafter 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 Galán, the leading Liberal candidate, Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa for the political party Unión Patriótica (UP), and Pizarro.[8][9] Following the assassination, Antonio Navarro Wolff accepted the nomination of AD/M-19.[10] Wolff would later finish third in the race, with 12.7% of vote, losing out to César Gaviria who later appointed him the position of health minister.[11]

Chief Prosecutor Alfonso Gomez would later charge Carlos Castaño, former leader of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Spanish: Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) (AUC), for the deaths of Jaramillo Ossa and Pizarro on May 24, 1999.[12][13]

Popular culture[edit]

Carlos Pizarro is portrayed by the Colombian actor Tiberio Cruz in the TV series Escobar, el patrón del mal.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Country report: Colombia. Economist Intelligence Unit. 1990. p. 8. 
  2. ^ Jorge Pablo Osterling. Democracy in Colombia: Clientelist Politics and Guerrilla Warfare. Transaction Books. p. 302. 
  3. ^ a b Osterling p.306
  4. ^ "Colombia, Rebel Group Agree to Open Peace Talks April". Associated Press. March 18, 1989. 
  5. ^ Stan Yarbro (December 3, 1998). "Colombia". The Associated Press. 
  6. ^ Joseph Coleman (October 29, 1998). "Drug trafficker extradited to U.S.". Associated Press. 
  7. ^ "Bogotá, Guerrillas Reach Agreement". The Washington Post. September 27, 1989. p. A46. 
  8. ^ Harvey F. Kline. Colombia: democracy under assault. Boulder: Westview Press. p. 68. 
  9. ^ Russell Crandall. Driven by Drugs: U.S. Policy Toward Colombia. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 33. 
  10. ^ Crandall p. 70
  11. ^ Charles D. Ameringer. Political Parties of the Americas, 1980s to 1990s, Canada, Latin America, and the West Indies. Greenwood Press. p. 201. 
  12. ^ Crandall p.69
  13. ^ Kline p.68