“Bolivar lives, the struggle continues,” the FARC proclaimed in a written statement which also contained several pictures of the sword.
The sword has had a long and tumultuous history in Colombia, in which myth and rumour are often indistinguishable from fact. In 1974, leftist guerrilla group M-19 stole the sword from Bolivar’s country house, a museum outside of Bogota.
The sword then supposedly passed to the hands of infamous drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, in return for favors granted to the M-19. Escobar’s son, Juan Pablo, says the sword hung on the wall of his childhood bedroom “like a toy.”
After the M-19 demobilized in 1991, they returned the sword in a ceremony in Bogota. Afterwards, the weapon’s exact location was not known. According to popular rumor, it was passed on to Fidel Castro for some time.
The FARC said they took the sword from an area near Santa Marta. Police in the area say they have received no reports of the theft.
Simon Bolivar played a key role in liberating Latin America from Spain in the 19th century. He is frequently used as a populist symbol by political leaders, including Hugo Chavez.