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Cablegate: Peru: Government Plan to Take Back Its Territory

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P 202245Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4053
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 4382
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7224
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0181
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RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1125
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RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY

S E C R E T LIMA 000487

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/14/2017
TAGS: PGOV PINR PTER SNAR PE
SUBJECT: PERU: GOVERNMENT PLAN TO TAKE BACK ITS TERRITORY
FROM TERRORIST AND CRIMINAL GROUPS

Classified By: Ambassador J. Curtis Struble for reasons 1.4(c) and (d).

1. (S) Summary: The Garcia government has developed a
comprehensive plan that, successfully implemented, could end
the continuing threat to Peru's peace and security
represented by Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso -- SL) remnants
while blunting the FARC and narcotraffickers. The four-part
plan focuses on regions where a weak state presence has
allowed terrorist or narcotics groups to flourish,
potentially threatening national security. They are the
VRAE, the Huallaga valley (areas where separate SL columns
operate), the Putumayo (to control the border with Colombia
and blunt FARC influence) as well as Peru's northern coast
(targeting maritime narcotraffickers). Substantively, the
plan incorporates enhanced intelligence collection, targeted
security operations, infusions of economic support that
establish the state's presence and civic actions intended to
separate terrorist groups from local populations. Besides
addressing the vexing lack of a unified command authority in
the VRAE and Huallaga regions, the plan enjoys political
support at the highest levels and appears to have sufficient
funding for at least the first part -- Plan VRAE -- to begin
in earnest. In its scope and thoroughness, this
comprehensive CT/CN plan appears to offer more promise than
anything evidenced by the previous government, but the real
proof will be in its implementation. End Summary.

2. (S/NF) The Garcia government, led by the Ministries of
Defense and Interior, has developed a comprehensive
counter-terrorism plan that could end the continuing menace
to Peru's peace and security represented by the Shining Path
(SL) while also blunting FARC and narcotrafficker influence.
According to sensitive reporting, SL has 200-500 armed
militants that operate independently in two separate regions,
one in the VRAE and the other in the Huallaga valley. While
these SL columns still espouse the group's revolutionary
"Maoist" ideology, reporting in recent years records their
transformation into mercenaries who sell protection and
extortion services to narcotics traffickers and other
criminal operations, much like the FARC in Colombia. While
SL remnants are relatively few and geographically isolated,
government intelligence officials believe that, like the
FARC, the terrorist group could reemerge as a significant
national security threat in the future.

3. (S) The government's plan is multidimensional first in
geographic terms, focusing on four priority areas. Indeed,
one might characterize the plan as, in effect, four separate
plans arranged into one loose framework.

-- The first two plans target the VRAE and the Huallaga
Valley -- remote coca growing zones east of the Andes that
cut across the departments of Junin, Huancevelica, Ayacucho
and Apurimac. Not coincidentally, these areas are also home
to the two separate remnant columns of SL, who operate
independently of one another. "Plan VRAE" is already
approved and closest to execution.

-- The third plan seeks to reinforce security in the Putumayo
region along the northern border with Colombia. It aims to
expand the state's presence in that remote region, including
with patrols along the Putumayo river in order to prevent
FARC elements from using Peruvian territory. (The FARC uses
Peruvian territory, to some extent, for rest and relaxation,
logistics and supply and has co-opted some communities and
local leaders in the region.)

-- The fourth plan, still in gestation, aims for government
security forces to more closely monitor and control the
country's northern coast. In recent years some of Peru's
largest drug seizures were made along or offshore the
northern coast, indicating its growing importance as a
trafficking route.

While each of these targeted areas requires a distinct plan
crafted to its particular geographic and other challenges,
they are all similar in their remoteness, lack of state
presence, and the ability of illegal armed groups, including
terrorists, to conduct operations there.

4. (S) Substantively, the government's plan incorporates the
interconnected, mutually reinforcing elements of classic
counterinsurgency strategy. These elements are:

-- Enhanced intelligence gathering capabilities to identify
with greater precision the physical location and membership
of these groups. (Government officials have requested
specific assistance from U.S. counterparts in this
connection.)

-- Targeted security operations, which aim to root out the
terrorists while minimizing damage to innocent members of
surrounding communities. Past governments erred in not
extirpating definitively the remnants of SL while they were
weak. The stepped-up pace of SL attacks in the two regions
over the past 18 months shows that the remnant groups used
the respite to recruit auxiliaries, enlist locals in
intelligence collection, and build symbiotic relations with
narcotics traffickers and illegal loggers. The current plan
could finally remove this threat. At the same time, the plan
reflects an understanding, learned through past missteps,
that security operations alone are insufficient to the task.

-- Establishing and expanding the state's presence with
infusions of economic support to build roads, schools,
clinics and to pay for other pressing local needs. The
government recognizes that terrorist groups have survived in
the vacuum left by the absence of the state, and that failing
to correct this situation would inevitably doom the larger
effort.

-- Civic operations to win the "hearts and minds" of local
populations and to convince them that their future lies with
the government rather than with the terrorists. This will
take the form of a more integrated "community policing"
concept in which relationships between security forces and
local populations are cemented by long-term intensive contact
and by high-impact public relations outreach such as health
and vaccination campaigns. (One persistent structural
problem in the past has been that, while security forces
rotate in and out of these remote regions, terrorist groups
remain, and therefore have a more intimate knowledge of the
people and terrain.)

The economic support and civic operations components seek to
"separate" local populations from terrorist groups, build
trust between local populations and security forces and
provide the vital human intelligence needed to carry out
other elements of the plan.

5. (S/NF) The government's plan seeks to overcome an
obstacle that has vexed counterterrorism efforts in the
recent past, i.e., to unify a command authority structure
that has historically been divided between Peruvian National
Police (PNP) and the uniformed military forces. Problems
relating to divided or ambiguous command authority,
characterized by PNP and military forces acting without
reference to the other's information or orders, have often
generated confusion, ineffective operations and sometimes
worse. According to sensitive reporting, the killing of five
PNP officers and three civilians in a December SL attack was
caused in part by a lack of communication and coordination
with nearby military forces, which had standing orders that
travel in such high risk areas be done in protected convoys.

6. (S) The plan is closely monitored by Minister of Defense
Wagner, Minister of Interior Mazetti and Chairman of Joint
Chiefs equivalent Montoya. President Garcia, who wishes to
correct a legacy of mistakes in the security area made during
his first term (85-90) when the SL flourished, has reportedly
"blessed" the plan. The Ministry of Defense has taken the
lead in coordinating the VRAE, Putumayo and the northern
coast plans, while civilian intelligence agencies in the
Ministry of Interior have led in developing the Huallaga
Valley plan.

7. (S) There are early indications that stage one of the
plan has funding levels -- reportedly of approximately USD 20
million -- reflecting that political will and that should
facilitate the kick-off of its initial key elements. (Plan
VRAE is closest to implementation, and could serve as a kind
of test case for the broader effort.) While these funds are
insufficient to resolve larger problems of poverty and
exclusion that indirectly feed into terrorism and that
represent the government's primary political challenge, they
should give government forces a genuine capacity to get to
work. In this respect, the government appears to be putting
its money where its mouth is on counter-terrorism.

--------
Comment:
--------

8. (C) In its comprehensive scope and thoroughness, this
multi-sectoral and thematically integrated CT plan offers
more promise than anything evidenced by the previous
government, which spent its first years pretending a
terrorism threat no longer existed. Still, in this as in
other government plans, the proof will be in its successful
implementation and in its results. It is important to note
that the only major step proceeding from discussions into
action has been the reorganization of command and control.
STRUBLE

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