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Cablegate: Coca Growers Elect Affiliates of Chavez Associate

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #3229/01 2671326
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241326Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6934
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5112
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7596
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0801
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ SEP 4529
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1471
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1502
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHOND/DIRONDCP WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS LIMA 003229

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT. FOR INL, INR, WHA/AND

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SNAR PE
SUBJECT: COCA GROWERS ELECT AFFILIATES OF CHAVEZ ASSOCIATE

REF: A. LIMA 909
B. LIMA 1053
C. 2006 LIMA 3823
D. 2006 LIMA 2927
E. LIMA 218

1. (SBU) Summary: Peru's largest coca-growers' organization
elected new leadership September 14. Former leader Nelson
Palomino, whose recent moderation was seen as bought by the
GOP, lost his seat to individuals associated with the
Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) and Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez. The cocalero group also announced a nationwide
strike, scheduled for September 24, though indications are
the strike lacks popular support. End Summary.

NEW LEADERSHIP, SAME GOALS
--------------------------

2. (SBU) The National Confederation of Coca Growers of Peru
(CONPACCP) held its sixth annual "National Congress" from
September 10-15, 2007, in the northern coastal city of
Trujillo. Both in terms of membership and geographic
representation, CONPACCP is by far the largest of Peru,s
"cocalero" organizations. In contrast to previous sessions
which saw attendance by rank and file growers in the
thousands, this year's meeting consisted of elected regional
leaders only. Total attendance was approximately 120.

3. (SBU) Notably, delegates from areas not represented at
previous national meetings (e.g. Puno region in the south and
jungle areas in the east) attended this year, leading
organizers to tout the organization as truly unified and now
more representative of the cocalero movement country-wide.
The assembly elected new leadership and agreed to pursue
several objectives, none of which is new: (1) a halt to
involuntary eradication of illegal coca crops; (2) GOP
adherence to the terms of the "Tocache Accord" of March 2007
(a halt to coca eradication pending a survey of
coca-producing areas; see refs A and B); (3)
decriminalization of coca production; (4) withdrawal of coca
from the list of psychotropic drugs in 1988 UN anti-drug
convention; and (5) execution of a nationwide strike (see
para 6).

PALOMINO OUT, MALPARTIDA IN
---------------------------

4. (SBU) Until this year, Nelson Palomino had been the leader
of the cocalero movement nationwide and reportedly harbored
national political ambitions (refs C and D). Rumors began to
circulate in early 2007 that he was losing support within the
organization. His January 2007 visit to the Embassy with
cocaleros and political leaders (ref E) generated widespread
criticism within CONPACCP that he had gone soft. Shortly
thereafter, reports surfaced that Palomino was receiving
payments from the GOP intended to moderate his agitation, an
assertion our contacts believe to be true. Under this cloud,
Palomino got a chilly reception at last week's Trujillo
conference, where he was voted out of office as Secretary
General of the organization. His supporters maintain that he
resigned his leadership voluntarily in order to focus on his
NGO "Kuska (Together) Peru", though most observers see this
explanation as a face-saving device and have pronounced
Palomino and his political agenda dead.

5. (SBU) The new CONPACCP leadership is closely linked to
cocalero legislators Elsa Malpartida and Nancy Obregon, both
of whom are members of Ollanta Humala's Nationalist Party of
Peru (PNP). Some observers believe Obregon and Malpartida,
avowed opponents of the pending U.S.-Peru FTA and U.S. aims
and activities in Peru generally, will seek to align the
CONPACCP with broader PNP objectives. Others say the
influence of Obregon and Malpartida will open the CONPACCP to
"Bolivarian" influences, given Malpartida's all but open
association with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Malpartida is widely believed to have received funds from
Venezuela and to be disbursing these in politically
vulnerable areas throughout Peru, including the Upper
Huallaga Valley.

STRIKES THREATENED
------------------

6. (SBU) CONPACCP leaders are planning a strike to begin
Monday, September 24 in San Martin region. Leaders hope this
demonstration will have national reach, and force the GOP to
negotiate. That said, the planned strike reportedly lacks
even local support, and organizers have already chosen to
postpone a planned preparatory meeting. (We will report
related developments septel.)

Comment:
--------

7. (SBU) There is much debate about the significance of the
new cocalero leadership. Some say it amounts to a PNP
victory, with worrying implications about further Venezuelan
interference. Others see it as a wash. Whatever the case,
like its predecessors, the new leadership has aims contrary
to established GOP counternarcotics policy and will seek to
oppose that policy however it can.
MCKINLEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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