The e-mails, taken from what Colombia claims are Raúl Reyes’ computers, reveal how they talked about hostages like Ingrid Betancourt, political deals, strategies of the FARC to get political recognition and Chávez’ ambition to gain further influence in the region.
The newspaper had earlier revealed how close the ties between Colombia’s leftist neighbor and the country’s largest rebel group are. The published e-mails give more insight in how the Venezuelan Government and the FARC cooperate in reaching their goals.
“He approved completely and without blinking our request (300). (Colombian authorities believe the request is for US$300 million.)
In relation to the hostage swap, he suggested a slight change in our strategy that I’ll explain in point 3. Right now… he’s eager for a Marulanda-Chavez meeting (to negotiate further hostage releases) in the Yari. To achieve this, he thinks his upcoming meeting on Nov. 20 with (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy is crucial. (Chávez) will need the ‘proofs of life’ that Marulanda ordered. With them, he can approach Sarkozy. Chavez is sure that it will convince Sarkozy to pressure Bush to order (Colombian President Álvaro) Uribe to agree to the meeting.
Chávez is sure that by meeting Marulanda they’ll agree on a formula to release the hostages. When he told Sarkozy about his determination, he nearly jumped out of his chair to say he’d also like to go to the meeting with Marulanda. Chávez is very excited.
We need each other mutually. The meeting at Yari will give Chávez and the FARC a continental and global projection.
If we can’t set up a meeting at Yari with comrade Marulanda and Chávez, Chávez suggests the following:
a) That we make a unilateral release, for instance, of the women (without Ingrid). I think there are just two, the woman from Huila and Clara and her son. We could also throw in some sick ones.
b) That once he receives the prisoners he will declare a safety corridor between the Venezuelan and Colombian border, where spokesmen from each side can sit to negotiate a deal.
c) Chávez reacted well to our petition that he grant us recognition, and that he “lobby” Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Argentina to do it, too. These are countries that already informally recognize us as political actors. He will also pitch it to Sarkozy and Spain, countries that have us on the terrorist list. With Switzerland there is no problem. He will also seek for the non-aligned countries to do likewise. Once we achieve this, we open the doors for the FARC representation in all these countries.
There was a great empathy with Chávez. I think we raised his esteem for the FARC…. Chávez feels that we are soon to see the rebirth of the Great Colombia.” (Iván Márquez and Ricardo Granda summarize a meeting with Chávez in the Venezuelan presidential palace in and e-mail allegedly sent to Manuel Marulanda on November 12, 2007)
Venezuela has always dismissed the e-mails and denies having friendly ties with the FARC. International police organization Interpol concluded Colombia hadn’t tampered with the files after researching the computers. Interpol didn’t research if the computers belonged to FARC-leader Raúl Reyes, as claimed by Colombia, and if the contact as mentioned in the computers took place as the e-mails say they did.