Venezuela Offers Sanctuary to FARC
According to this report at Spanish daily El País, Venezuela is now serving as sanctuary for the FARC's top leaders.
The article states that the Colombian Minister of Defense has pointed out that the top FARC leaders are not in Colombia, which makes their arrest difficult. The Colombian MoD did not speculate further as to their whereabouts.
However, El País does speculate that FARC Secratariat members 'Iván Márquez', 'Timochenko' and 'Joaquín Gómez', plus 'Grannobles', another FARC leader, are hiding in Venezuela (my translation, bold print from original article):
With nearly 200,000 kilometers of common border, most of it jungle or wilderness, it is nearly impossible to combat the guerrilla without joint action from both armies. But there is not only ideological affinity between the [Venezuelan] Bolivarians and the FARCs: there's rampant corruption. The Venezuelan military and police gave into the temptation of enriching themselves with narcotraffic money. Narcos and the FARC buy their wills in order to cover up their cocaine exports. It's no wonder that Venezuela has become a key stopover for the Colombian drug on its way to the United States and Europe.The article quotes military analyst Alfredo Rangel, who stated that following the release of the information gathered from the FARC computers found last year, while Chavez has distanced himself from the FARC and is not providing as much money and weapons and does not give the FARC the diplomatic cover he used to, he continues to passively support them.
Just last Thursday the Venezuelan Foreign Minister had vowed to collaborate with Colombian authorities in the search for members of the FARC that killed eight Colombian soldiers and then allegedly fled to Venezuela last week.
Earlier this week Chavez had blamed Colombia for a helicopter crash that killed 18 members of the Venezuelan army. During his 'Alo Presidente TV program Chavez accused both Colombia and the US for the accident:
"¿Cuántas vidas nos ha costado patrullar la frontera? Vean ustedes lo que nos cuesta el conflicto interno de Colombia, que es alimentado, y hay que decirlo, por las corrientes guerreristas de EEUU, por los perros de la guerra que andan inventando guerras y conflictos para vender armas, alimentado por el narcotráfico."
"How many lives will patrolling the border cost us? See for yourselves what Colombia's internal conflict is costing us, which is fed, it must be said, by the US warmongering, by the dogs of war that go around inventing wars and conflicts in order to sell weapons, fed by the drug traffic."How's that "mending fences with Chavez" going, folks?