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Cablegate: Worldwide Marches Against the Farc Planned For

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0376/01 0302230
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 302230Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1144
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9870
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JAN 9204
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5858
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1146
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6521
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4282
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDTA/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1889

UNCLAS BOGOTA 000376

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PHUM PTER CO
SUBJECT: WORLDWIDE MARCHES AGAINST THE FARC PLANNED FOR
FEBRUARY 4


1. (U) Summary: A non-partisan Colombian student group is
organizing marches against kidnapping and the FARC in 148
cities around the world on February 4. The students are
using the web-site Facebook to organize the events, and the
initiative enjoys widespread popular support, Still, the
opposition Polo Democratico Alternativo (Polo) Party has
criticized the marches, claiming they will spark political
polarization and favor President Uribe. The Polo will
organize a separate gathering against kidnappings and the war
on the same day in Bogota. Participants have decided against
holding marches in Caqueta and Huila--departments where the
FARC remains active--due to fear of FARC reprisals. End
Summary.

MARCH AGAINST THE FARC
----------------------

2. (U) Colombian students around the world created the group
'Colombia Soy Yo' to garner support and members for their
initiative against violence, kidnapping and the FARC. Using
Facebook, they created the event 'A Million Voices Against
the FARC' to organize marches against the FARC around the
world on February 4. A separate web-site is translated into
ten languages. The students are organizing marches in 148
cities on four continents, including 30 in Colombia.
Organizers are selling t-shirts with the logo "No More! No
More Kidnapping! No More Lies! No More Murder! No More FARC!"
The initiative has attracted widespread popular support in
Colombia, where polls show 98% of the population opposes the
terrorist group.

3. (U) The student group is non-partisan, but is receiving
support from many Colombian political parties and
communities. An organizer in Bucaramangara said, "We started
with a snowball, and with each day the movement has grown
into an avalanche. The people have responded, because they
are tired of FARC violence." In Colombia, marches are
planned in all major cities. In many locations, local
mayors, such as the Medellin Mayor Alonso Salazar, support
the initiative. In Barranquilla, the march will be led by
the Queen of Carnaval.

CRITICISM AGAINST THE MARCH
---------------------------

4. (U) The march has rekindled internal divisions within the
opposition Polo Party over the appropriate stance toward the
FARC. After extensive internal debate, Polo President Carlos
Gaviria announced on January 30 that his party would not
participate in the marches but would instead gather in the
Plaza de Bolivar to advocate a humanitarian accord and voice
opposition to the war. The United Workers Federation (CUT),
teachers federation (Fecode), several family members of
hostages, and Polo Bogota Mayor Samuel Moreno will
participate. Polo Congressman Wilson Borja explained that
"when you march against the FARC, you are marching in favor
of Uribe. Both are militarists." Polo Senator Gustavo Petro
criticized the decision, and said he would participate in the
march.

5. (U) Other critics, such as El Tiempo op-ed writer and
Uribe biographer Maria Jimena Duzan, argued that the marches
will contribute to political polarization and jeopardize
efforts to reach agreement on a humanitarian exchange. Duzan
voiced concern that President Uribe and his supporters will
co-opt the marches to promote a "false sense of nationalism"
against the FARC and build support for a second reelection
attempt Other critics complained the marches only oppose the
FARC and do not address crimes by the paramilitaries. Still,
Duzan said she would participate.

SECURITY REMAINS A CONCERN
--------------------------

6. (U) Fear of retaliation remains a concern in departments
where the FARC remains active. Families of hostages, civil
society groups, and local authorities in Caqueta and Huila
departments voiced concern that the FARC will use violence in
communities taking part in the marches. A mayor in Huila
said there is no need to "rock the boat and start declaring
war on everyone." Similarly, the Governor of Huila stated
that he will support such "initiatives of the people," but

cautioned that the government will not help organize them.
Brownfield

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