Venezuela still supports FARC

The New York Times reports:

Despite repeated denials by President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan officials have continued to assist commanders of Colombia’s largest rebel group, helping them arrange weapons deals in Venezuela and even obtain identity cards to move with ease on Venezuelan soil, according to computer material captured from the rebels in recent months and under review by Western intelligence agencies.

The materials point to detailed collaborations between the guerrillas and high-ranking military and intelligence officials in Mr. Chávez’s government as recently as several weeks ago, countering the president’s frequent statements that his administration does not assist the rebels. “We do not protect them,” he said in late July. . .

The newest communications, circulated among the seven members of the FARC’s secretariat, suggest that little has changed with Venezuela’s assistance since [Colombia’s raid on a FARC base in Ecuador]. The New York Times obtained a copy of the computer material from an intelligence agency that is analyzing it.

One message from Iván Márquez, a rebel commander thought to operate largely from Venezuelan territory, describes the FARC’s plan to buy surface-to-air missiles, sniper rifles and radios in Venezuela last year.

It is not clear whether the arms Mr. Márquez refers to ended up in FARC hands. But he wrote that the effort was facilitated by Gen. Henry Rangel Silva, the director of Venezuela’s police intelligence agency until his removal last month, and by Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, a former Venezuelan interior minister who served as Mr. Chávez’s official emissary to the FARC in negotiations to free hostages last year.

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