Marcos Calarca, one of the leading FARC negotiators at the ongoing peace talks with the Colombian government in Havana, Cuba, said on Thursday former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was a key facilitator in the dialogue between the two parties.
“Without the presence and impulse of president Chavez we would not be where we are because he facilitated many things,” Calarca said in a phone interview with Blu Radio.
The FARC negotiator said the fallen Venezuelan leader never used dirty tricks to lure the guerrillas into the peace talks.
“It is not [a] product of manipulations or pressures [on the behalf] of Chavez because he would never have done that,” said Calarca.
Calarca denied accusations that several FARC units used Venezuelan territory to rest, recoup and plan attacks, while claiming the Venezuelan head of state had never actively helped the guerrillas. According to the rebel leader, the FARC’s top leadership had ordered all guerrilla commanders to keep their fighting units on the Colombian side of the border.
“The version of the FARC presence in Venezuela is false … we are in Colombia and we maintain our struggle in Colombia independently of our political relation towards other governments.”
Calarca said the legacy of Chavez would live on through the acts of “revolutionaries” all across the world.
“With the death of Chavez we lost a dynamic [leader] with a clear concept of socialism […] we are the revolutionaries of the world [and] the ones engaged in maintaining the legacy of the Venezuelan president,” said Calarca.
However, the FARC leader said the guiding light of the guerrilla was independence hero Simon Bolivar, not Hugo Chavez.
“We are a Bolivarian guerrilla, [we are] not following Chavez but the ideals of Bolivarianism,” he said.
Hugo Chavez died on Tuesday after a long and drawn out battle with cancer.
One of Latin America’s most divisive and controversial presidents of recent history, Chavez came into office in1999 and — apart from a three-day coup in 2002 carried out by dissident members of the military, opposition politicians and media — was able to maintain power until his death.