Important FARC Leader Arrested in Venezuela

By Dialogo
March 26, 2012

A leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a Colombian guerrilla group, accused of the murder of three Americans in 1999, has been arrested on Venezuelan territory, the Colombian police announced.

William Alberto Asprilla Chitiva, alias “Marquetaliano,” was arrested on March 21 as he was travelling on a road that links Caracas and the port of La Guaira, together with several people who are still being identified, Carlos Mena, director of the Criminal Investigation Directorate (DIJIN), told the press in Bogotá.

The arrest was the result of a joint action between intelligence elements of the Colombian Army and of the Venezuelan police, who had been aware of the arrestee’s presence in Venezuela since about six months ago, he said.

Mena identified 62-year-old “Marquetaliano” as a “co-founder” of the FARC, which has been Colombia’s leading guerrilla group for almost half a century.

He also said that he is a “member of the Central General Staff,” a structure with about thirty members that is hierarchically below the Secretariat, the communist guerrilla group’s top-ranking body.

Mena stated that Bogotá expects that the Venezuelan authorities will move to “expel or deport” “Marquetaliano” to Colombia, since they had sought his arrest through Interpol in the last few weeks, on charges of criminal conspiracy, rebellion, and kidnapping.

Nevertheless, Mena noted that “apparently, there’s also some kind of request from the American authorities,” since “Marquetaliano” is accused of having planned the kidnapping and murder of three American researchers engaged with indigenous issues.

Mena also highlighted the high level of the relationship between the two countries for the fight against crime. “Today is the best moment Colombia has seen with regard to exchange and cooperation with Venezuelan authorities,” he emphasized.