Venezuela Captures One of FARC’s Founders

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Venezuela has captured a guerrilla known by the nickname “Marquetaliano,” one of two remaining survivors from the founding of the FARC rebel group almost 50 years ago.

William Alberto Chitiva Asprilla, alias “Fernando Bustos” or “Marquetaliano,” had been tracked by the authorities for some time before he was captured on Wednesday. He was found in a “slum” house outside Caracas that he shared with 11 other people, and where drugs were sold, reports El Tiempo. The rebel had come to live in Venezuela in 2009, and moved constantly to avoid detection, according to the newspaper.

The veteran guerrilla was reportedly located through the person sent from Colombia to bring him funds.

As a teenager, “Marquetaliano” was one of the peasant fighters who founded the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the region of Marquetalia, central Colombia, in 1964. The only other fighter surviving from the birth of the group is a guerrilla known as “Sargento Pascuas.”

Chitiva is accused of taking part in the 1999 kidnap and murder of three US citizens who were working with indigenous groups in Arauca, in the northeast of the country. He is likely to be deported to Colombia in the coming days.

InSight Crime Analysis

The fact that Marquetaliano was captured in Venezuela, in an operation involving Venezuelan and Colombian authorities as well as police agency Interpol, shows that Caracas is cooperating with its neighbor against the FARC rebels. As InSight Crime has said, this type of cooperation will be key in determining the shape of the conflict in coming years, as the FARC’s new leader Rodrigo Londoño, alias “Timochenko,” and second-in-command, Luciano Marin Arango, alias “Ivan Marquez,” are known to move in and out of Venezuela.

The captured guerrilla was not part of the FARC’s core leadership; he was a member of the Central High Command (Estado Mayor), made up of 30 commanders, but not of the seven-man Secretariat, which directs the group’s policy. Having been hiding in Venezuela for several years, he probably did not have a key military role in the group. However, his capture represents another symbolic blow for the rebels.

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