New intelligence collected by Colombia’s central intelligence agency, DAS, emphasizes how and where FARC combatants take shelter from security forces in Veneuzela.
High ranking rebel combatants in particular are based outside Colombia, El Espectador reported, referring to a 16-page intelligence report obtained by the publication. One member of the FARC’s Secretariat, Luciano Marin Arango, alias “Ivan Marquez,” is believed to move frequently within Venezuela, between the northernmost municipality of Machiques (bordering Cesar in Colombia) and its southwestern municipality of Nula (bordering Arauca in Colombia).
This region in Venezuela is also said to house 28 FARC camps capable of sheltering up to 1,500 rebels. Members of the secretariat make use of the camps for military training and for planning political outreach schemes, according to intelligence sources. The camps also reportedly have landing strips frequently used by small planes smuggling drugs across the border.
The intelligence document states that FARC commander Germán Briceño Suárez, alias “Grannobles,” brother to military leader “Mono Jojoy,” moves back and forth between the Arauca department and Venezuela, where a Venezuelan landowner and businessman watch over his estates when he is gone. He is is also said to benefit financially from public works and business contracts with unnamed third parties in Venezuela.
Other major FARC leaders take shelter across the border. Head of the FARC’s Middle Magdalene Bloc, Rodrigo Londoño, alias “Timochenko,” and Secretariat member alias “Bertulfo” also are believed to hide in Venezuela’s Perijia national park, which extends for nearly 300,000 hectareas. In Colombia, it is illegal for the military to realize offensives or aerial sprayings in natural parks, leading rebel fighters to build encampments within the protected grounds.
The FARC is not the only rebel group believed to seeking shelter in Venezuela. The top brass of the ELN, Nicolas Rodriguez Bautista, alias “Gabino,” and Eliecer Acosta, alias “Antonio Garcia,” are thought to move freely between the eastern Venezuelan town of Guasdualito and La Victoria, based on the Caribbean coast.
The DAS intelligence also includes a long list of presumed Venezuelan military officials and civilians who regularly provide arms, food and other materials to known FARC guerrillas, both high and low ranking, El Espectador reports. In at least three rural Venezuelan cities, the FARC are said to concentrate their communication equipment and coordinate their civilian recruitment campaigns.
The intelligence report also describes a visit that FARC representatives paid last August to Cuba, to discuss the group’s international political initiatives. Cuba has consistently denied any involvement or formal links to the Colombian guerrillas.
The Colombian government has long accused neighbors Venezuela and Ecuador of failing to aggressively pursue FARC rebels who take shelter across the border. The FARC was also recently found to be providing protection for one of Ecuador’s top drug traffickers, Jefferson Ostaiza, in Colombia.