El Pais connects Chavez, the FARC, and Belarussian Weapons

(Yup, this photo is from El Pais)

I'm not sure why this isn't front page news in the U.S. yet, but it's all over the Spanish language press. El Pais, the newspaper of record in Spain, somehow got ahold of some documents from that came from the laptop that was in the possession of RaĂșl Reyes (the FARC leader that was killed in Ecuador by Colombian troops a little while back, setting off a "crisis" in South America). Colombian officials found files on one laptop that seemed to imply that Chavez was financing weapons for the FARC. Chavez said this a lie fabricated by Colombia and Colombia appealed to Interpol to investigate the mystery of the computer. El Pais' report is apparently based on Interpol's verification of the legitimacy of those documents.

El Pais is now running a series of articles, revealing the contents of those documents. Here's a brief summary of the key points from the first article: While the FARC was meeting with Chavez to negotiate the release of some of its hostages in November 2007, it made the secret request for Chavez to help them get some weaponry. He agreed and put the resources of the Venezuelan state to work on it: the military and the country's oil wealth (giving them oil to sell on the black market). FARC folk, with the backing of Venezuelan money, were to go "somewhere in the Middle East" to meet with some shady characters who'd procure arms from Belarus (one of those former Soviet republics whose store of weaponry has vanished). In the article, the FARC show their geopolitical savvy: they want help from Chavez but without exposing him as a supporter in order to shore up his reputation as leader of South America (since the EU recently put FARC on the list of terrorist organizations, being seen as an active supporter of the group would compromise his legitimacy internationally).

Here (as translated by me) are some key lines from the article:

The Venezuelan president "agreed, without batting an eye, to the request" of 300 million USD [194 million Euro] made by the Marxist guerrilla. In addition, he devised a plan to receive, in the Venezuelan region of the Orinoco, the arms sent to the FARC by two Australian traffickers and set in motion a coordinating mechanism between the guerrilla and the Venezuelan military, at the highest level.

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