Venezuelan Kidnappers of Colombian Rebel “Foreign Minister” Almost Identified

Investigators into the kidnapping of the FARC's Rodrigo Granda say that they are certain that Venezuelan bounty hunters, who are probably also active members of Venezuela's investigative police, organized the kidnapping and received a reward from Colombia's government for the action.

Caracas, January 12, 2005—According to Venezuelan police who are investigating the kidnapping of Rodrigo Granda, the “Foreign Minister” of Colombia’s FARC guerilla, two bounty hunters captured him and delivered him to Colombian authorities. Colombia’s Defense Minister, Jorge Uribe, confirmed today that the Colombian government paid a reward for Granda’s capture.

The Venezuelan newspaper El Mundo reports that police officials involved in the investigation have said that the two bounty hunters had plenty of previous experience with this type of operation and know how to travel throughout Venezuelan territory with their victim without being stopped at military or police check points. It is thus assumed that the individuals in question are active duty police officers.

FARC “Foreign Minister” Rodrigo Granda under arrest by Colombian security forces.
Credit: AP

Rodrigo Granda was kidnapped in the middle of the day, in the center of Caracas, on December 13, a few days after attending a conference of Latin American supporters of the Bolivarian project. Two days later, on December 15, Colombian authorities announced that they had captured Granda in the Colombian border town of Cucuta. Colombia’s rebel force, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), denied he was captured in Colombia and demanded an investigation on the part of Venezuelan authorities. Last week Venezuelan authorities confirmed the Granda was kidnapped in Venezuela and then taken to Cucuta.

Luis Tascon, who represents Chavez’s party in the National Assembly and is from Tachira state, which shares a border with Colombia, said today that Venezuelan intelligence forces have found out that members of Venezuela’s investigative police (CICPC) and a Colombian military officer participated in the action and that they received a $1.5 million reward that had been placed on Granda’s head.

Jorge Uribe, Colombia’s Defense Minister, confirmed that the government paid a reward, but denied that it was $1.5 million. Also, he did not specify who received it. In an interview with the Colombian television channel RCN, Uribe said that the Colombian government specifically sought out Venezuelan bounty hunters and thus Colombian state security forces never violated Venezuelan territory in the action. Furthermore, this type of action is not new for the Colombian government, said Jorge Uribe, and that they would continue to employ such methods whenever the Colombian government considers it necessary.