The FARC’s top leader reportedly lives at the estate of the Venezuelan president’s brother, a priest told Colombian media Friday.
In an interview with RCN Radio, priest and Venezuelan journalist, Father Jose Palmar, said FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, alias “Timochenko,” and two other members of the FARC secretariat frequently spend the night at the estate of Adan Chavez, brother of President Hugo Chavez and governor of the Venezuelan state of Barinas.
“Part of the FARC Secretariat live in Venezuela,” said Palmar who is a priest in the Venezuelan city of Maracaibo and often crosses the border. “That I can assure you,” he added.
Palmar is an open critic of the Chavez government and swears that the 19th, 41st and 59th fronts of the FARC operate with impunity in the Venezuelan state of Zulia. It is from here, he claims, that they organize raids in Colombia, such as the attack by the 59th Front Monday which killed 12 Colombian soldiers in the department of La Guajira.
“On Saturday I was in the area of ??Valle Verde and there I found the 59th Front and we could witness visually the emergency mobilization of the FARC in the area. We saw the Venezuelan National Guard protect the FARC,” said Palmar.
According to Palmar, the 19th and 41st fronts control the municipality of Machique Perija in Zulia, where they run smuggling and drug trafficking operations.
“They present themselves to our homes, to our communities,” said Palmar. “They live extorting the locals. Now they move on motorbikes to traffic drugs, weapons and to collect vaccines.”
After Monday’s attack President Chavez announced he had immediately sent two military brigades of 3,000 soldiers to fight the guerrillas in the border region.
Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin met with Chavez and her Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, Thursday after which she told Radio Caracol that Chavez had promised to deport all guerrillas who are captured in Venezuela.