This week, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos released several emails from a slain guerrilla commander that mention the intentions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to kidnap businessmen outside of Colombia.
InSight brings you pieces of those emails, which were mined from the computer and hard drives of Jorge Briceño Suarez, alias “Mono Jojoy,” who was killed in a military bombardment of his camp in southern Colombia in September.
The emails reveal the intentions of the FARC to work in “finances” in countries such as Mexico, Venezuela, Paraguay, and Peru.
In Mexico, it’s believed the FARC worked closely with the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), a small guerrilla group operating mostly in Oaxaca province. The EPR have been connected to the recent kidnapping and subsequent release this week of Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, a top political operative in that country, that reportedly paid $20 million ransom to secure his freedom.
In Paraguay, the FARC worked with the Free Country Party (Partido Patria Libre), which has long been connected to kidnappings in that country, including that of Cecilia Cubas, the daughter of Paraguay’s ex-President Raul Cubas, who was killed in captivity in 2005.
And in Venezuela, the FARC have a strong presence, including many camps they’ve set up along the border in provinces such as Zulia, from where they seek refuge from the Colombian army and finances from kidnapping and trafficking drugs.
Email 1: Mexican “friends”
To: Raul (Edgar Devia, alias “Raul Reyes,” a FARC commander who was killed in an aerial bombardment of his camp in Ecuador in 2008)
From: Ricardo, Olga, Marco (members of the FARC’s international delegation, part of which was based in Mexico)
Date: 14 March 2003
…There are some things we did not think we should put in the plan [that is attached]. We’re talking about a proposal to get finances from a high level retention outside the country. The idea is that the International Delegation will check this out and, obviously, organize everything, so there is no way to connect it to the FARC. Regarding this, there is the possibility of working with our Mexican friends — you remember – the ones with the loan, with them. The part we have to do is the negotiating and changing the money that they pay. Initially these won’t be big, but the idea is to see how it goes…
Email 2: Paraguay’s “clandestine work”
To: the Secretariat (the FARC’s maximum command)
From: Raul (Edgar Devia, alias “Raul Reyes,”)
Date: 2 September 2003
…Osvaldo the head of the Partido Patria Libre says there is 300,000 dollar from a ransom collected in a joint job with the FARC-PL. He assures us that in Paraguay there are good possibilities to work in financing with us, purchasing weapons and organizing support groups for the FARC. The controls along the Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay borders are minimal. These guys have an armed group who has no experience in collecting ransoms, they’re asking for our help in getting someone to do the clandestine work…
Email 3: A Caribbean Businessman in Venezuela
To: camarada jorge (Jorge Briceño Suarez, alias “Mono Jojoy,” slain in bombardment in September 2010)
From: ivan (Luciano Marin, alias “Ivan Marquez,” commander of the Caribbean Bloc and member of the FARC’s Secretariat)
Date: 9 August 2003
…here you know about the possiblity of kidnapping the owner of a bank in Aruba and Curazao [sic]. they say he’ll be on a beach near Maracaibo in 4 or 5 hours…
Email 4: A Peruvian “Businessman”
To: the Secretariat (FARC’s maximum command)
From: Joaco (Milton de Jesus Toncel, alias ‘Joaquin Gomez,’ the head of the Southern Bloc and member of the Secretariat)
Date: 3 May 2009
…We started to do intelligence in Peru, to get our hands on some rich dude there…He’s a businessman. We would do the work with a friend there who would grab him and give him to us. We can ask for 4 million dollars for him. So as not to be fooled, we sent some people to find out who he was, and yes, he has money. We already know how we can get him…
Original emails (pdf).