BOGOTA, Colombia – Colombia's police chief said Monday that documents recovered from a slain rebel leader's computer reveal financial ties between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Colombia's largest guerrilla group, including a recent message that mentions US$300 million in Venezuelan support for the rebels.
The official, Gen. Oscar Naranjo, didn't say if there was any indication in the Feb. 14 message that Venezuela actually delivered this money to the rebels.
Another document found in the laptop belonging to slain rebel leader Raul Reyes suggests financial ties between Chavez and the rebels dating back to 1992, Naranjo said. At the time, Chavez was jailed in Venezuela for leading a coup attempt, and was plotting the comeback that eventually led to his election as president in 1998.
"A note recovered from Raul Reyes speaks of how grateful Chavez was for the 100 million pesos (about US$150,000 at the time) that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, delivered to Chavez when he was in prison," said Naranjo told a news conference.
Reyes, the FARC's main spokesman, was among the rebels killed Saturday in a Colombian commando raid on their camp just across the border in Ecuador, infuriating Chavez and his ally, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.
Chavez has called Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe a "mob boss" and a "liar." In return the Colombian government has expressed its concern at links between Venezuela and the FARC.