Emails mined from a computer of a slain leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) show the guerrillas intended to kidnap businessmen in various parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos revealed this week.
One email, according to El Tiempo newspaper, said that the FARC were particularly interested in a businessman in Peru.
“We did intelligence, and yes, he has money,” Milton de Jesus Toncel (shown in photo), alias “Joaquin Gomez,'”says in the email dated May 2009. “We already know how we can get him,” Toncel adds.
The emails come from the computer of Jorge Briceño Suarez, alias “Mono Jojoy,” who was killed in a Colombian Air Force bombardment in September. Authorities, however, recuperated his computer and various hard drives and are plowing through them to find out how and where the rebels operate.
Toncel, who is the commander of the Southern Bloc and a member of the rebel’s top command, the Secretariat, remains at large.
Another email, dated August 2003, shows the FARC were targeting a banker with interests in Aruba and Curacao. And El Universal newspaper in Mexico says other emails reveal the FARC’s intention to kidnap in that country as well.
Santos, who spoke of the emails during a speech in Cali on December 23, did not say if the kidnaps happened, but the timing of the release of these emails is curious. This week, Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, a top political operative in Mexico, was released by a mysterious group that had held him for over seven months. Most analysts connect the group to the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), a small guerrilla group operating in Oaxaca province. The FARC, according to an article in El Universal earlier this year, may have trained the EPR.
The FARC has been connected to numerous kidnappings including that of the daughter of the ex-president of Paraguay, Raul Cubas, in 2005.
In the emails, FARC leaders also talk of trafficking weapons in Paraguay and the porous border between Brazil and Uruguay.