A Venezuelan army commander admitted that, despite his government's denials, Colombian rebels have been operating on the Venezuelan side of the border for years. But the Venezuelan general denied that the Colombians were allowed to operate there by the Venezuelan government. The Colombians came into the thinly populated area heavily armed and with lots of money. No one in Venezuela saw any reason to fight them. The rebels brought money and protection to the Indian tribes on the Venezuelan side of the border and the tribes provided scouting and hospitality for the rebels.