Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez chaired a Security Council meeting on 23 March in Tibú, which is in the northeast area of Norte Santander department, right on the border between Colombia and Venezuela.
The FARC has launched several attacks in that area in recent weeks, crossing from its bases in Venezuela to kill Colombians and then fleeing back to Venezuela.
However, looking towards Venezuela at an event covered by Colombian reporters, Uribe publicly invited FARC “bandits” like ‘Grannobles’ and ‘Ivan Marquez,’ and ELN leaders like ‘Antonio García’ and ‘Pablo Beltrán,’ to return to Colombia.
“We’re waiting for you, bandits,” Uribe said.
Colombia’s intelligence services are absolutely certain that some two dozen senior FARC and ELN leaders are hiding in Venezuelan territory under the unofficial protection of the Chavez regime.
Colombia’s intelligence services also pinpointed long ago the precise locations in Venezuela where the FARC and ELN maintain base camps.
Colombian and US intelligence services are also completely certain that senior Venezuelan military and intelligence officials are actively helping the FARC and ELN with cash, weapons, protection, transportation and other perks.
Some FARC and ELN leaders hiding in Venezuela reportedly are located in safe houses in Caracas, Valencia, Maracay, Barinas, Barquisimeto and other cities.
Rodrigo Granda was living in Maracay with legally issued Venezuelan citizenship papers under an assumed name as far back as 2004, before he was abducted by freelance bounty hunters in Caracas and handed over to Colombian security officials in Cucuta.
But Granda was freed several years ago to “help” facilitate a dialogue between the FARC and the Uribe government, and almost immediately he disappeared. Now Granda is believed to be living in Venezuela again, profiting like other FARC leaders from the illegal narcotics trade.
The Chavez regime knows that Colombia’s government knows the location of FARC leaders hiding in Venezuela and FAC base camps. At least on two occasions over the past three years, Uribe reportedly has personally handed to Chavez Colombian intelligence reports with the “coordinates” of the FARC/ELN thugs hiding in Venezuela.*
But President Chavez has never acted on these reports.
Chavez, the FARC and ELN have been strategic allies since about 1994. The relationship began only a few months after former President Rafael Caldera freed Chavez from Yare prison in 1994. (In a way, Caldera is to Chavez what Victor Frankenstein was to the monster assembled from parts of human cadavers, but we digress…)
Data extracted from laptops, pen drives and other devices seized in March 2008 by Colombian troops from the bombed FARC camp in Ecuador where the group’s No.2 leader, Raul Reyes, was killed confirm with total certainty that the Chavez regime has been actively cooperating with the FARC for years, offering financial and political support, safe haven in Venezuela, and even weapons. The Uribe government recently gave the data it extracted from the seized FARC computers to the International Criminal Court.
The US government last year designated former Interior and Justice Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin an active collaborator of the FARC, together with the heads of Military Intelligence (DIM) and the Interior and Justice Ministry’s Political Police (Disip).
However, the bandits won’t return to Colombia any time soon, at least not openly. So, what are the Uribe government’s options? Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said in February that Colombia would “hunt down … (and) neutralize” FARC leaders wherever they are found.
Since the majority of the FARC’s top leaders are now hiding in Venezuela and Ecuador, the threat by Santos spurred immediate reactions in Quito and Caracas. President Rafael Correa warned that any incursion of Colombian troops into Ecuador’s territory would be considered an act of war. The Chavez regime’s response was similar, albeit less aggressive than Correa’s (surprisingly). President Uribe immediately refuted his Defense Minister’s remarks, defusing a potential diplomatic blowup with Caracas though not with Quito.
But Uribe made his point again on 23 March in Norte de Santander. The top leaders of the FARC and ELN are hiding in Venezuela. The Chavez government is aiding and abetting international terrorists and drug traffickers.
(*US intelligence entities very likely are working with Colombia’s intelligence services to track these FARC/ELN leaders in Venezuela (and Ecuador) through Sigint, Elint and Humint methods.)