In February 2020, representatives of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and a dissident faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – the “Gentil Duarte,” the same faction that Nicolás Maduro has been targeting with bombings in Apure – assembled the Indigenous inhabitants of Pendare, a corner of the Venezuelan Amazon jungle.
The occasion? Announce that they intend to legally settle there – with the permission of Caracas, they said. Met with resistance, the guerrillas tried to convince the locals, but they did not take into consideration that the Piaroas might be recording the assembly. Armando.info accessed the recordings: an audio testimony of how the Colombian armed gangs described their history and plans in the south of Venezuela.
Immediately and definitively abandon their territories: This was the ultimatum that the Uwottüja (Piaroas) indigenous people gave to members of the so-called FARC dissident group and the ELN during an assembly on February 23, 2020 in the Indigenous community of Pendare, in the state of Amazonas in the south of the country. The plenary had been called by the guerrillas with an aim not only unprecedented in the area, but seemingly without logic: to make official before the Indigenous people their claim to settle in the Venezuelan territory and exercise their authority.
The Colombian guerrillas were not moved by the exhortations of the locals. Their reply was brief and categorical. "We cannot make the mistake of withdrawing from the territories because that would be a disaster for us and for our allies, which are the government, the authorities, and the people of Venezuela. We are very sorry, and from our heart and with all due respect, we cannot," a member of the FARC responded.
This exchange is just an excerpt of several recordings made during the assembly, and to which Armando.info had access. Although the meeting took place a little over a year ago, the tone and content of the arguments that the representatives of the Colombian guerrilla organization presented not only reveal the intention to establish themselves definitively in a territory in which they already had a presence; they also expose the coordination at that time between the fronts led by Acacio Medina of the FARC and José Daniel Pérez Carrero of the ELN, on the one hand, and the coordination between these groups and the Venezuelan government, on the other.