Skip to main content

Colombia says it has proof that FARC leaders are in Venezuela

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Colombia says high-ranking FARC leaders live in Venezuela
  • President Alvaro Uribe names names
  • Venezuela and Colombia have strained relations

(CNN) -- Colombian authorities have proof that high-ranking leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, live in Venezuela, the Colombian government said Thursday.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe issued a statement listing their names.

Among them is one known only by the alias "Ivan Marquez;" other names include Rodrigo Granda, whose alias is "Ricardo;" Timoleon Jimenez, whose alias is "Timochenko;" German Briceno, whose alias is "Grannobles;" and Carlos Marin Guarin, whose alias is "Pablito." The president said there are other "integral members" of the group in Venezuela.

However, details of the evidence Colombia holds was not clear. On Thursday, Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva met with the directors of the Colombian media for about an hour and a half to discuss the story. At the meetings conclusion, Silva gave a brief statement to reporters reiterating that Colombia had coordinates and apartments used in Venezuela by FARC and ELN guerrillas.

Colombian authorities were aware of meetings between rebels in Venezuela as recently as Thursday, and have evidence of rebel camps, Silva said.

"The continued and permanent tolerance of the presence of terrorists in that country is a threat to the security of Colombia," Silva said.

There was no immediate response from the Venezuelan government.

Venezuela and Colombia have strained relations.

Uribe is a two-term president who has high approval ratings for his tough stand against FARC guerrillas, who have been waging war against the Colombian government for decades.

Colombia has accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of supporting the rebels. Chavez has previously accused Colombian officials and right-wing paramilitary units of plotting his assassination.

Security analysts have said FARC guerrillas operate mostly in Colombia but have carried out extortion, kidnappings and other activities in Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador.

FARC is accused of trafficking in cocaine to finance its insurgency.

Colombia has also accused another neighbor, Ecuador, of giving refuge to rebels. In 2008, Colombia carried out a raid in Ecuadorian territory that resulted in the killing of a top FARC leader.